Innovation ... new, invention, out of box…or something else?

Imagine a couple of 4-5-year-olds playing, say a game of Snakes and Ladders. They have 4 different colored tokens, a dice, and the Snakes and Ladders, board. First, they try to play the game following the instructions from their parents. After about 10 minutes, however, they get distracted by the game’s box. They assume that box as a pan and the tokens as different vegetables. They prepare a perfect meal by using the box and tokens and confidently feed their parents. The delighted parents cannot stop praising its taste. After a couple of minutes, the tokens are forgotten and the box becomes their car and the house becomes the racing track. They also honk an imaginary horn every now and then. During this ride, something else in the house attracts their attention. They forget about their car and start playing with the new object. Now you must be thinking, what is great about this story? Those kids are playing everything except Snakes and Ladders. However, an amusing thing called ‘Innovation’ is hidden in these ‘un-played games’. Those 2 kids are none other than we from our childhood days when we used to fly everywhere with the wings of imagination.   
Our ancestors made a lot of important discoveries and inventions such as the controlled use of the fire and the wheel. These discoveries and inventions made their lives easier, more comfortable and meaningful. Otherwise, they might have to rely only on the soil and weather. As the saying goes ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’, men started learning new things through their experiences. They started experimenting with the available tools to create something new. For example, a combined use of different items such as a paper, rubber, and ink resulted in the development of printing technology.
When someone finds out an object for the first time, it is called as a discovery. Gradually, the discovered objects become a part of everyday lives. People use them only in a conventional way. Sometimes, however, people use these objects in unorthodox ways. They even develop completely different items, tools or methods by using these objects. Such different uses are called as inventions or innovations.
We always come across brilliant innovations like the ones mentioned below and cannot help but praise the imagination, knowledge, and abilities of their creators. We see someone has created a garden fountain by making holes to an empty plastic bottle and joining a water inlet to the bottle’s mouth. Someone has opened a paper clip and is using it as a needle to adjust a mobile SIM card. Someone has installed a book-holding stand to enable reading while lying down. In Japan, the kinetic energy from pedestrians’ walking is converted into the potential energy to generate the electricity for illuminating footpath lights.

We are going to see some such innovative objects, projects, and methods in the following articles.


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