Ferries and Flies

in Solar-panel

Dr. Robert Dane once sat on the docks of Australia's Sydney Harbor and thought about boats, ferries, and all the other ships in the harbor. Almost all of the ships in the busiest harbor in the world run on diesel fuel, which is a major contribution to the pollution problem.

Dr. Dane recalled reading a book about ancient insects and the evolution of how they grew wings. Common sense dictates that insects grew wings to fly. That's what I always thought. But Dr. Dane had read that insects originally grew wings to regulate their body temperature. Bugs used their wings as solar panels; they stuck out their wings to absorb the sun's radiations and used the sunlight to stabilize their internal temperatures.

He took the concept of a bug's wing and thought about the wing in conjunction with the pollution-free sailboat and the efficiency of solar panels. He realized that by combining these things together, he could overcome multiple obstacles. Pollution would no longer be an issue if the boats could run without diesel fuel. When combined together, the wings and solar panels would overcome the vagaries of the wind that doesn't always blow and the sun that doesn't always shine. Using solar panels and wings together would also allow the ships to get more speed than from either force alone.

You may be thinking, sure this plan sounds great on paper, but nothing realistic could ever come from that kind of pipe dream. Yet in the summer of 2000, Dane's Solar Sailor, the world's first solar/wind/hybrid-electric powered cruise boat, took to the waters of Sydney's harbor. The Solar Sailor is a 20 meter long catamaran that makes 7.5 knots without producing any water or air pollution.

What a cool idea for the environment. The mechanics of Dr. Dane's boats are not revolutionary. He just combined existing technologies with a little bit of inspiration from nature to create an entirely new concept.

It is called Combination Creativity and it is the heart and sole of innovation. Nearly all new things are combinations of existing things. If you think you have a truly unique idea you're kidding yourself.

How can you put this to use? Take one of your existing products from your company portfolio. Randomly...and I mean randomly... select some other product, service or business model that seems to be apparently unrelated. How could you combine those two things that already exist into a new product or service?

There millions of examples of combination creativity and its not that hard. Google mashups happen almost every week. Cell phone and bar codes have been around for a while. Some one just decided to combine the two together to create a whole new business.

Check it out.


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Mark Fox has 1 articles online

Mark L. Fox

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This article was published on 2010/04/04