An awareness of user innovation could be empowering for people. It’s when someone comes up with a new way to use or do something, such as chopsticks pinning back long hair or the GoPro mounts for cameras. Although it’s jargon, user innovation is a concept worth knowing so that people without formal design skills start to value what they have to offer. Regular use of an existing product or approach often leads to insights about its limitations, and how it can be improved. It’s a respected design method and, like many people, I had been doing it without realising before I heard about it at university.
Companies often seek their customers ideas to improve products and increase profits without giving anything in return, They call it ‘free revealing’. But small scale manufacturing opens up other possibilities. With easier access to digital tools and people to collaborate with at makerspaces, we can turn ideas into reality ourselves, or make them open source, a form of free revealing for everyone’s benefit rather than one brand.