Innovate or evaporate. This is the modern business imperative that has summed up the current competitive trends being experienced in the business world. As Marchal established, in addition to securing the time to market, improve quality and cost, manufacturers are now forced to focus on innovation (1).
Innovation was universally defined by most scholars as the design that takes markets by storm. These designs are accompanied with leading-age development processes which transform conceptual ideas into reliable, saleable and cost-effective products (Stahl 128).
Nonetheless, while referring to design as a business strategy, Karie postulated that many questions arose in (say scientific communities) as a result of the use of business terms such as “national competitiveness,” “strategic areas,” “priorities,” and “new paradigms”.
This was the case simply because these terms had gained great use in scientific statements and as such donors had no option but to rely on them to determine the viability of the projects for funding.
In the end of the selection process, the author asserts that only projects that were geared towards enhancing innovation (which in this essay paper I specifically refer to as design) made it the final list for funding.
To help achieve the ever-changing user needs in the current competitive environment, Stahl asserted that the advancements in technology have been at the forefront of assisting designers to accomplish innovation.
To support this, I state that if I asked the following question to informants, “can you narrate to me the experiences of technology in your homes or your personal lives?” then I am likely to get abundant responses some of which I document them in the succeeding paragraph:
Before the coming of the remote controls, we needed to get up to change the TV stations. Before the invention of the cell phones, we were only accessible at homes or at workplaces with the use of landline.
Before the ATM, we had to physically approach tellers to withdraw money. Before the coming of the internet (www), we neither were unable to access up-to-date information nor communicate to remote friends.
The above statements point to a single fact. This is that advancements in technologies have helped designers to develop hi-tech devices that target to improve people’s lifestyles.
Personal computing, business management application programmes and many more personal devices have as a result made substantial inroads in almost all world societies (Deutsch 4). Goggin justified the above notion when he documented that there were nearly 1 billion personal computers and over 3 billion phone subscribers as of the year 2007 (525).
In this study, I make a follow-up on the findings above by I arguing that a number of insights into technology have provided valuable assistance to many professionals in their efforts to enhance innovation and improve lifestyles.
Since technology is a broad subject area with its scope varying greatly based on the assigned context, the author points out that this essay paper will narrow down to the usefulness of the topic to the professional designers.
The following is the analysis and argumentation in support of the paper’s purpose. The insights cover 4 industries of technology namely the computer, TV and mobile phone and motor industry.
To start with, the author asserts that the insights in the computer industry have been valuable to designers in various ways. For instance, Balestri and the group established in their research paper that “the electronic design studio provides tools for analysis of problems and draft designs” (10).
This team of scholars went ahead to expound on their findings by giving a real-time example of a program for composing in French (called ‘System D’) that offered in addition to its basic word processor, additional database references for its novice users (who can also be designers in our perspective).
Likewise, in computer science, Elliot Soloway’s analytic tools for computer programming have assisted students to easily decompose their initial draft programs. In the field of computer architecture, designers have benefitted from the use of technological innovations mainly in the form of Computer-Aided-Design (CAD).
To further on this, the author concluded that an example of a CAD program is the “Energy Scheming” that is equipped with tools that quickly analyze draft designs of buildings (Balestri et al., 10). In addition to analyzing, CAD programs can have the abilities to gauge the amounts of energy lost through windows of given sizes.
To sum up on the insights of the CAD technological innovations in this paper, the author asserts that their ability to create alternative visual or pictorial representations (in form of trees, outlines, sequences of sentences amongst others) to designed structures are valuable to many designers.
This is so because they assist designers to detect errors or flows in the initial drafts and a result initiate and implement corrections accordingly.
Figure 1 depicting a Chief Architect’s design of a 3D glass house (created by use of CAD).
Source: Chief Architect Homepage
The second analysis of how insights into technology have been valuable to designing can be well explained by analyzing the current trends in digital branding. From the onset, the author notes that it is impounded to provide a background of the succeeding statements below.
First, the author states that branding was defined by Balakrishnan as “selecting a consistent brand element mix to identify and distinguish a destination through positive image building” (42).
Second, it has been recently adopted as perhaps the most powerful and the best marketing weapon readily available to most contemporary destination planners and marketers.
Third, this was supplemented by the unplanned spending of a whooping US$ 1,480 billion on destination branding in the same year (Balakrishnan 84). In a nutshell, until recently, few success stories had existed in the destination branding strategies. Morrison and Anderson averred that this was so because they contained a mixture of varying components (commonly referred to as marketing mix).
However, the trend has changed today thanks to the important role played by technology in enhancing designing of appropriate business strategies.
This has been so because on project based co-operations, designers have been able to manage the translation of business goals and brand stories into sentiments and visuals that touch specific target audiences.
The advanced technology has thus facilitated implementation of concept, research, design and strategy. This has been achieved by use of technological tools such as Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Marketing Platforms and other additional data services.
Figure 2 below demonstrates how a designer (Balakrishnan) made use of the advancements in technology to design and depict key factors necessary for branding strategies to achieve success.
Source: Balakrishnan 622.
Still on the computing insights, the author established strikingly, to enhance learning; designers have been approached by educators to maximize on the use of technological innovations such as Moodle web applications.
These are applications that enhance design and technology curricular in schools. They are endowed with free and open-source e-learning software platforms which have abundant navigational features.
Moving to the insights into the TV industry, the author established that while stating that modern research had failed to acknowledge the technological innovations that had undertaken place in the television industry, Jessica propounded ten facts to defuse the ten myths that had been established by early scholars (9).
The ten facts avail abundant evidences that justify the notion that the TV, just like the internet, constituted an important media that had undergone technological transformations to emerge as a key source of information (Jessica 9). In one of the stated facts relating to 1960s, the author argued that the technological innovation in the TV industry had seen designers produce comedies dominated by themes of magic, fantasy and witchcraft.
Nevertheless, to date, improved technology has seen standard TV sets designed to converge with media like: newspapers, shopping, and entertainment, advertising as well as video rental.
This has led to the offering of a variety of uses through the advanced TV designs. The flat screen and LCD sets are examples of the high-tech TV designs that were designed based on the latest technological innovation in the sector.
Figure 3 showing an image of the hi-tech designed Samsung LCD TV
Source: Samsung Homepage
Moving to the insights into the mobile phone industry, the author notably established that a study by Goggin had revealed that “from its prosaic or boring origin in its predecessor technologies, including wireless telegraphy, the telephone, radio, and the pager, the cell phone has become a much-desired, loving and crafted thing” (525).
The author expounded on his findings by postulating that this was the case because this artifact may be used to observe many entwined, sinuous facets of contemporary design (Goggin 525). Before its current sleek design, the mobile phone design revolved around creation of bulky, expensive and heavy gadget (Karie).
To add, the author established that their design remained firmly anchored in engineering, industrial and scientific telecommunication realms. The breakthroughs in the mobile phone industry become noticeable once invention in technology made it possible to design technically lighter and portable devices.
This decisive shift in technology that allowed designing of stand-alone portable phones provided the material basis upon which the current standard phone design features are embraced.
To add, the author came to find that the breakthrough in mobile phone industry was embraced by the 2 early phone manufacturing companies namely Motorola and Nokia. These 2 giants maximized on the improved technology to design devices with new and improved features, new communication architectures, high capabilities as well as high cultural expectations.
For instance, their new look devices were designed and incorporated with address books and games (starting with the Nokia Snake Game) amongst others. Furthermore, their devices were also designed to jostle with the wristwatch by being provided with time interfaces as well as additional alert technologies such as alarm clocks.
Also, a notable breakthrough involved the invention of changeable mobile phone phases in the late 1990s. This experience enabled users to customize the available devices to suit their specific color preferences.
As such, designers ensured that since the gadgets had become integral parts of persons’ everyday lifestyles, then it was necessary that they were designed and decorated to match their surroundings and expectations.
Thankfully, succeeding years have seen the ever-changing technology lead to the smartening of the mobile phones. While borrowing from Goggin research, the author established that IBM became the first competing manufacturer to introduce the smart phone (530).
This was in the year 1992. Its device was strategically designed to combine versions of the then standard computer programs. However, today, almost all phone manufacturers have embraced the technological innovations in the industry by designing and developing high-tech smart phones that continue to be re-produced regularly in improved versions.
Figure 3 below illustrates the latest iphone4, examples of smartened and advanced mobile phones as designed by the leading I-phones manufacturer, Apple.
Figure 4 illustrating the latest iphone4s; examples of a smartened and advanced mobile phone designs by the leading smart phone designer Apple
Source: Apple Homepage.
Again, in the last section of the car industry, the author postulates that technological insights have helped designers to design and manufacture hybrid models that reduce on the cars’ production and fuel consumption costs (Lowgren and Stolterman 143).
Examples of these technological innovations in the industry have been introduced and sustained by Toyota, the leading Japanese car manufacturer and seller. These innovations include the Just in Time (JIT) assembly lines and Lean Practices.
The two innovations have helped its designers to reduce on the lifetime of new models by enhancing re-use in the production phases.
Figure 5 showing the Lexus LS 600h hybrid sedan, a design product of the JIT and Lean technological innovations.
Source: Toyota Home Page
In a nutshell, as Balestri and the group established, learning to design is partly a social process (13). Although most scholars argue that novice designers need to learn in important ways by interacting with their peers and mentors, in this study, I establish a different trend.
As such, I insist that the insights into technology have proved valuable assets for both the experienced and novice designers. To defend my finding, I give the example of the electronic design studio which has been known to foster richer interaction amongst the learning community (students and the other faculty members included).
It accomplishes this by use of its software and hardware technological interfaces that allow new forms of communication and conversation. This and the many findings in the above sections evidence the fact that insights into technology are valuable assets for modern designers.
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