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Communications Networks

Frankenstein’s Line Extension vs. The Innovator

The Consumer Electronics Show is an extremely big show and runs the gamut from cables, accessories, and video games, to cutting edge industrial technology.  It is really fun, especially if you can just walk around and look at things.  This year, I was lucky and got to spend half a day just wandering around. 

I have been on both the manufacturing and buying side of the electronics industry. New product innovation has always been my passion.  I have been involved in some really innovative new products, such as voice mail, computer music, digital recorders, and in-ear monitoring that have really had a major impact on how things are done.  I have also been involved in some dogs.  About half of my "can’t fail" ideas seem to find a way.

From a manufacturer’s perspective, it is surprisingly easy to create Frankenstein’s line extension.  You start with an existing product, then add features for some other hot trend in the market that customers are buying.  That seems obvious doesn’t it?  Take something that people want, add a new feature that they want, and you have a solid product that people want more than they did before. 

Here was the first such innovation that caught my eye at the show.  I believe it is called the Soundmaster Vulcano Lamp Digital Music System.  It has an alarm clock and is iPod compatible.   I do not know whether it was a music system, lava lamp, or alarm clock first, but to my knowledge it is the first to put them all into a single device.  If that wasn’t good enough, now you can plug your iPod in.

  Lava lamp - alarm clock - digital music platform

I am genuinely on the fence about the SamsungW7900 cellphone projector.  It’s a cellphone and it’s a projector.  The device is a bit bigger than an iPhone, but has a 10 lumen projector inside.  Every time that I go schlepping into a presentation with my laptop and projector, I wish that something like this existed.  On the other hand, I normally only use a projector when I have six or more people and I have lots of information that we need to review.  The presentations tend to get big, especially if you have lots of graphics let alone video.  My concern is that the lamp is not bright enough and that relying on the cellular bandwidth for large presentations would be problematic. 

small_cell_projector small-comparison

That having been said, as I start to think about different uses, I  imagine using the cellular connection to allow someone to stream video remotely to the projector.  That could work in a semi-permanent installation or could be used to insert advertising in different places.  It would eliminate the need to install a monitor and data connection. 

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