First there was FirstBuild, a GE Appliances subsidiary that allowed the Haier-owned appliance giant to develop groundbreaking products like the Opal Nugget Ice Maker.
Now, GE Appliances is planning to expand on the idea behind FirstBuild with the launch of Giddy, an online community that allows any business to co-create with anyone willing to help develop new products or improve existing ones.
“It’s the best ideas that haven’t found their way forward,” Taylor Dawson, CEO of Giddy, told Digital Trends at the Consumer Electronics Show. “Companies are continuing to evolve the way they approach innovation, and are more willing to go outside their four walls to generate good ideas. We’re giving businesses access to fresh thinking, while providing opportunities for people to do what they love and gain experience.”
Here’s how it works: Giddy allows any business — GE Appliances related or not — to post challenges for the community to solve. So, say a company wants to create a certain type of home brewing system, for example. Instead of using its own resources to develop a plan and device prototype, the firm can turn to Giddy, a platform that allows businesses to post the idea as a challenge to the community via an app. From there, anyone can submit plans as long as they follow the criteria set forth in the challenge.
Once selected, the Giddy team helps businesses coordinate their challenges and provide guidance until there is an idea or framework for a product that can be taken to production by the business.
While businesses will pay a fee to use Giddy, amateur inventors, hobbyists and makers can join for free. Once registered, members can then view all the existing challenges and work on those that match their expertise. Giddy uses simple language for easy participation, multimedia for submissions, and an online voting system to gather community feedback.
“Yes, the technology is great, but the value is in Giddy’s creative community from artists to engineers and makers,” Dawson said. “We saw the power of community and open innovation at FirstBuild. If it worked that well for GE appliances, we’re confident other companies can benefit from a similar approach.”
Dawson showed Digital Trends a challenge called the “Drink Sink” at CES, where the public was invited to improve on — you guessed it — a sink that is more user friendly. In addition to helping other companies with their product development, Giddy will manage the online communities for GE Appliances’ growing FirstBuild business, which has created some innovative stuff in its own right, including the Paragon mat, which Digital Trends awarded the top tech designation at CES 2017.
FirstBuild now includes a founding location in Louisville, Kentucky that designs and builds products for FirstBuild and GE Appliances as well as a new location in Shanghai, China, which opened in 2017 and focuses on electronics, software, and hardware projects. A future location is scheduled to open in 2018 in India with a focus on IoT and connected technologies.
What does this mean for consumers? Well, two things: First, those who are fans of FirstBuild products might be excited to hear that more innovative products are on the way. Second, budding engineers might have the opportunity of a lifetime to create something great — and their ideas will actually count.
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