3 lessons from serial innovators

Hint: It’s not just one bright idea, repeated several times.

Some people appear to be blessed. They aren’t just lucky enough to have a single right idea at the right time; they keep coming up with more bright ideas that make the world better, or at least are valued enough for a profitable business model. While innovation and market success do not always have a strong correlation, there are a few things the creators often have in common.

It’s one thing to get lucky—to have a bright idea at the exact right moment. But many of the people I admire have been “lucky” several times over, sometimes in different guises. Maybe it’s creating a business that evolves from a solo success to a wide range of profitable endeavors under the same corporate umbrella, such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Or the spark of creativity may touch different realms, such as Philippe Kahn, whose success began with Borland’s Turbo Pascal, then camera phones, and now working in the Internet of Things.

I’ve paid some attention to what these people do differently from the rest of us mere mortals, including the things they don’t notice. Because, often, we take our personal strengths for granted; they are, after all, the things that require the least conscious effort.

Lesson 1: It’s all about technology. Except when it isn’t.

3 lessons from serial innovators

Always lead with technology, says Philippe Kahn. “I’m passionate about making things that help Ms. and Mr. Everyone. At different times, different things. But it all has to be led by unique technology innovation.” You may remember Kahn’s legacy at Borland, which drove software development on microcomputers. At LightSurf, it was the camera phone, accompanied by key patents. “Today at Fullpower, it’s the leading platform for the smartbed in the IoT smarthome, powered by machine learning and data science,” he says, with “a lot of innovation and patents.”

However, the world is full of technology that is inherently cool, but also an answer in search of a solution. Whether an innovation is an improvement over existing solutions (the iPod, a faster CPU, a more affordable compiler) or a disruptive game changer (DVDs by mail, crowdsourced classified ads), it answers questions that people immediately realize they had—as soon as the answer appears.

The technology breakthrough itself can be a distraction. Even though the market makers may talk about technology publicly, says Saul Kaplan, founder of the Business Innovation Factory, their attention usually is on problem solving and business models. It’s part of their DNA, he says. “When they stand in line at the supermarket, they are considering how to improve the buying experience,” he points out. Indeed, architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller was incensed by the time wasted standing in line when the bank tried to “save money” by limiting the number of bank tellers, and actively did the math to figure out how much income generation the bank was losing out on in that false economy.

Serial innovators constantly prototype and try on mental models in search of a better way. “They fix a problem and worry about scale later,” Kaplan says. (“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”—R. Buckminster Fuller)

“Technology can be a force multiplier,” agrees Dave Gray, management consultant and author of The Connected Company (you can read a free chapter here). “What tips the balance in most cases is the culture, the people, the morale. Those kinds of things win.” Gray refers to work from management researcher Saras Sarasvathy, who observed that entrepreneurs focus on their capabilities and ask, “Given what is currently under my control, what kinds of things could I do in the world?”

Kahn’s innovations with the camera phone bear this out. Instead of his team trying to develop manufacturing systems (not their core knowledge set), the inventors benefited economically by their licensing patents and technology to other companies with manufacturing systems. Others, such as Apple, Google/Android, and Samsung were then able to build the industrial powerhouses that still exploit the LightSurf original 1997 vision of “Point, shoot, share instantly.”

Lesson 2: In the desire to move forward, be willing to make your existing products obsolete.

Serial innovators look for opportunities to improve their own products because they’re aware someone else wants their business. “Paranoia is good,” Catherine Ulrich, chief product officer at Shutterstock, told the BBC. “Paranoia makes you think about your competitors, and that’s going to make you better.”

If the customer is going to find a better product, ideally it should be from the entrepreneur’s own company. Surely it was better for Apple to build a Macintosh that might “steal sales” from the Apple//e than to wait for a competitor to invent the next improvement, because the customers’ money all went into the same corporate coffers.

And that means leaving things behind—even if you once were really proud of the innovation. Back in 2007, Steve Jobs talked about the courage it took to remove technology from Apple products—in this case, support for Flash, USB, and floppy disks—saying that leaving them behind lets you “put energy into making those new emerging technologies be great on your platform.”

It’s hard enough for an upstart (or startup) company to “innovate” over its own products, but even more difficult for large companies to do so. That’s most famously examined in Clayton Christensen The Innovator’s Dilemma. (Here’s a great 4-minute video summary, for the impatient.) Once a product becomes a success, innovators—or the organizations they build—are unwilling to endanger it. Instead of chasing dreams and betting the house on them, they turn to incremental improvements and optimization of the status quo.

Or, as Kaplan expresses the sentiment: “You get so busy peddling the bicycle of the way your business works that you create constraints. Then along comes someone else who says, ‘I am not constrained and can solve it another way.’”

This isn’t new, of course. MIT senior research scientist David Clark, in discussing the development of the Internet, described the attitudes about innovation during the 1960s and 1970s. “A major source of doubt and skepticism was the mindset of the traditional telephone companies that basically said: first, it won’t work, and second, if it does work, we’re going to try to kill it because we’re not interested in having something that competes with us. I actually think that this doubt and skepticism was incredibly empowering because it basically meant they didn’t pay attention to us. As long as they didn’t pay attention, we could do anything we wanted, so we built a network more or less over their dead body, but they couldn’t stop us.”

In the 2004 article Why Big Companies Can’t Invent, author and venture capitalist Howard Anderson explained why new technologies are seen as a threat to the market leader’s profit margins. “Why would RCA or GE push solid-state technology when the profits from vacuum tubes were so high? Why would Kodak push for digital cameras when its real money was made in film? All eventually entered these markets, of course, but late, and only when change was inevitable. Major corporations much prefer ‘just-in-time’ innovation—innovation that peaks just as older products are on the back half of their life cycle. But innovation does not choreograph so simply; it comes in fits and starts, defeats mixed with occasional breakthroughs.”

Little has changed. “BlackBerry and Windows both suffered the fate of their owning companies focusing on the thing being sold, instead of the problem being solved,” points out Peter Coffee, VP for strategic research at Salesforce.

Lesson 3: Create a culture of innovation (really).

People bandy about the phrase “create a culture of innovation” as if it’s something you can order from Amazon or from which you get the parts from your local hardware store. But the serial innovators, particularly the ones who keep recreating their companies as well as their products and services, truly do encourage their people to try new things.

“No one here is ever told ‘That’s not your job’ when they propose an innovative action,” says Saleforce’s Coffee. “For that matter, I would say that people here are genuinely expected to innovate without permission (let alone a formal organization).”

To avoid being disrupted, a company has to create conditions for entire new business models. “Take Uber: they didn’t invent anything. They saw a problem, and they created an app,” says Kaplan. A few global transportation companies had all the resources and capabilities to make their own Uber, he points out. “But they were stuck in their business models, with their own rules of the road.” These other companies never had a sandbox in which innovative employees were challenged to “explore the possible business models even if it is disruptive to us.” And Uber was worth more than the global transportation company’s whole industry just a few years later.

Similarly, Sony had a huge division that created the Walkman. It also had a division that managed music talent, under contract. It had all the pieces. But, points out Kaplan, Jobs did it from scratch with the iPod.

For serial innovators, the problem is never the idea. It’s how to get the ideas off the white board and onto the ground. “In the end it’s about a repeatable and scalable business model and the ability to reinvent it,” says Kaplan. “That’s what it’s going to take to constantly stay relevant. And we live in a world that constantly screams for it.”

All you’ll ever need to know about mobile phones

The first photo message ever was sent in 1997. The inventor, Philippe Kahn, took a snap of his newborn daughter Sophie and sent it to friends and relatives.

CHRISTMAS Day was one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.

Experts put it down to our increasing obsession with mobile phones.

So as we hunt out the bargains – frequently on new handsets we’ve just taken out of the Christmas wrapping – here’s what you may not know about your mobile best mate.

The very first smartphone was launched on August 16, 1994, by IBM. It was a pioneer in commercially available touch-screen phones.

Nine out of 10 mobile phones in Japan are waterproof as many people even shower with them.

With a price tag of $15.3 million an Apple iPhone 5, with a 26-carat black diamond in place of the “home” button, became the world’s most expensive phone.

Next year over a third of the world’s population will own a smartphone, with 2.6 billion users.

Since Apple’s App Store was created in 2008, more than 140 billion apps have been downloaded – but a quarter are only used once in the six months after downloading.

Almost 85% of phones use the Android operating system – like Samsung’s – not Apple’s iOS.

You should charge your phone little and often and not necessarily leave it charging overnight when it has reached 100%.

Studies have shown the average mobile phone is covered with 18 times more bacteria than a toilet handle.

Mobile phones are now so common some people have developed a fear of being without one. This is called nomophobia.

Even if you have an older phone it’s still around 30,000 times more powerful than the computers used to take Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon.

A staggering seven trillion texts are sent every year worldwide.

In the UK 93% of adults own a mobile phone and 14% of us now live in a home without a landline.

The first portable phone was called a DynaTAC. The original model had 35 minutes of battery life and weighed a kilo.

The first public mobile phone call in the UK was made by comedian Ernie Wise in 1985 from St Katharine dock to the Vodafone head offices.

Less than one in 10 Eritreans have a mobile phone subscription – but in Kuwait there are more than two for every person.

The first photo message ever was sent in 1997. The inventor, Philippe Kahn, took a snap of his newborn daughter Sophie and sent it to friends and relatives.

Each person in the UK sends on average 170 text messages every month.

The Sonim XP3300 is officially recognised as the world’s toughest mobile. It can be dropped 84ft on to solid ground without breaking.

Forget iPhones or Samsung Galaxys – the world’s biggest selling phone is the classic Nokia 1100. There have been 250 million of these handsets sold over the years.

Sick of your phone’s battery running out? Try Russia’s Vobis Highscreen Boost 2. It boasts two batteries and doesn’t require recharging for two weeks.

The Willcom WX06A is officially the world’s smallest phone, measuring just 3.2cm long. The battery is so small it only has a life of two hours.

Think your phone bill is too big? Spare a thought for Frenchwoman Solenne San Jose. Her bill clocked in at £9.5 quadrillion (that’s nearly 40 times the combined wealth of the entire world). Thankfully it was a mistake and she didn’t have to cough up.

The first ever text message came from a Vodafone engineer to his boss. It was sent on Christmas Eve and read, appropriately enough, “Happy Christmas”!

Santa Cruz’s Philippe Kahn makes Time’s 100 most influential photos of all time

Philippe Kahn took the first ever cell phone picture of his then-newborn daughter Sophie in Santa Cruz County

NEW YORK – A single drop of milk, a newborn baby and the ravages of war and terrorism are included in a multimedia project featuring Time magazine’s most influential images of all time, released Thursday through a new book, videos and online.

Many of the photos or frames from films are familiar, ingrained in the collective conscious, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Falling Man,” taken on 9/11 by Richard Drew of The Associated Press.

Others, and their stories, are little known, such as the tiny snap by Santa Cruz software engineer Philippe Kahn of his new baby, the first cell-phone picture, after he rigged a flip phone with a digital camera in 1997.

The magazine’s editors consulted historians and photo editors and curators around the world, while Time staff wrote essays on each image.

Fullpower Receives Another Important Patent for Improving Sleep

San Francisco, CA, November 13, 2016 (Newswire.com) – Fullpower® Technologies today announced it has been awarded another important patent covering a sleep monitoring system, US 9,474,876 B1, including a “Method or apparatus to improve sleep efficacy” by monitoring user’s sleep patterns continuously and making adjustments to various types of sleep aids accordingly.

“Just like phones are now smartphones, in the next few years beds are becoming smart beds” said Philippe Kahn, CEO and founder of Fullpower. “This patent covers some of the important Sleeptracker innovation for IoT Smartbeds powered by AI, Machine Learning and Data Science.”

This patent is part of an intellectual property portfolio from Fullpower that includes more than 125 issued and pending patents. Broad coverage for the Sleeptracker® Technology Platform and MotionX® technology introduces a new and necessary approach for continuous sleep monitoring and analysis. Fullpower’s ongoing innovation translates into continually broadening and deepening of its technology and sensor-fusion patent portfolio.

Important Links:

www.fullpower.com
www.sleeptracker.com

View the patent (PDF)

About Fullpower:
Fullpower is the leader for cloud-based IoT smart-home and wearable solutions powered by AI, machine-learning and data science. With more than 125 patents, the Fullpower IP portfolio covers the AI-powered Sleeptracker® and the MotionX® IoT technology platforms for the Smart-Home and wearable. Fullpower’s business model is to license technology and IP to brand leaders such as Nike, BeautyRest, Serta, Amazon, Movado and others. Founded by Philippe Kahn, creator of the first camera-phone and based in Silicon Valley, the Fullpower team is passionate about technology craftsmanship, innovation, and the AI-IoT paradigm shift.

Fullpower Receives Patent on a Smartbed IoT Monitoring System to Improve Sleep Quality

San Francisco, CA, October 18, 2016 (Newswire.com) – Fullpower® Technologies today announced it has been awarded another important patent covering a sleep monitoring system, US 9,459,597 B2, including a “Method and apparatus to provide an improved sleep experience by selecting an optimal next sleep state for the user”. This enables the user to optimize their sleep patterns by adjusting the environment, bedding, and room temperature for optimal sleep to feel more refreshed.

“This is one more important patent, as most smart bedding systems inspired by Fullpower’s Sleeptracker® pioneering efforts try to copy some of the technology,” said Philippe Kahn, CEO and founder of Fullpower. “For IoT and the smart bed in particular, Fullpower’s IP portfolio continues to extend the Sleeptracker® technology platform.”

This patent is part of an intellectual property portfolio from Fullpower that includes more than 125 issued and pending patents. Broad coverage for the Sleeptracker® Technology Platform and MotionX® technology introduces a new and necessary approach for continuous sleep monitoring and analysis. Fullpower’s ongoing innovation translates into continually broadening and deepening of its technology and sensor-fusion patent portfolio.

Important Links:

www.fullpower.com
www.sleeptracker.com

About Fullpower:
Fullpower is the leader for cloud-based IoT smart-home and wearable solutions powered by AI, machine-learning and data science. With more than 125 patents, the Fullpower IP portfolio covers the AI-powered Sleeptracker® and the MotionX® IoT technology platforms for the Smart-Home and wearable. Fullpower’s business model is to license technology and IP to brand leaders such as Nike, BeautyRest, Serta, Amazon, Movado and others. Founded by Philippe Kahn, creator of the first camera-phone and based in Silicon Valley, the Fullpower team is passionate about technology craftsmanship, innovation, and the AI-IoT paradigm shift.

Click to read the patent.

The top 20 Universities In the world and their most successful alumni, including Larry Page (Google), Gordon Moore (Intel), Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX) and Philippe Kahn (Camera-Phone, Fullpower).

Philippe Kahn, notable ETH Zurich alumni

ETH Zurich in Switzerland,  one of the top leading universities in technology and science in the worldwhere Einstein studied and taught was founded in 1855, currently counts over 18,500 students including 4,000 doctoral students from 110 countries. The ETH has helped educate some of the world’s most famous big thinkers, including Albert Einstein and many Nobel prize winners. Fullpower CEO and founder Philippe Kahn was selected as the notable alumni for The ETH world ranking. Alumni Philippe Kahn is known for making the first camera phone solution to share pictures instantly on public networks, and has founded three successful technology companies: LightSurf Technologies, Starfish Software, and now Fullpower Technologies, creator of the Sleeptracker IoT Smartbed platform.

Philippe Kahn, notable ETH Zurich alumni

ETH Zurich is consistently ranked among the top 5 universities in the world in engineering, science and technology together with Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, Cambridge University  in the QS World University Rankings.

The list of schools includes the ETH Switzerland, the University of Pennsylvania (USA), Harvard University (USA), Yale University (USA), University of Southern California (USA), Princeton University (USA), Cornell University (USA), Stanford University (USA), The University of California, Berkeley (USA), University of Mumbai (INDIA), London School of Economics and Political Science (UK), Lomonosov Moscow State University (RUSSIA), University of Texas (USA), Dartmouth College (USA), University of Michigan (USA), New York University (USA), Duke University (USA), Columbia University (USA), Brown University (USA), Massachusetts Institute of Technology  (USA)

View the article at The Hans India

 

Are You Ready for SensorWorld?

Sensors, sensors, everywhere sensors. In our clothes, our shoes, air conditioners, cars, diapers and beds. And what are all these sensors doing? They’re collecting and analyzing data of course – billions of discrete pieces of information every picosecond of every day so we can, a) make informed decisions and, b) automate all of the things connected by the IoT (Internet of Things). Soon sensors embedded in my pajamas will determine I’m dehydrated from having a little too much fun the night before, then send a message to the 3-D food printer in my kitchen to make a drink designed to replenish my electrolytes. Sensors will also heat my house the minute my car heads for home and tell me when my 16-year old is driving over the speed limit.

Sound far-fetched? It shouldn’t.

Recently, Senior Editor of Wired Magazine, Bill Wasik, reported, “A new device revolution is at hand: just as mobile phones and tablets displaced the once-dominant PC, wearable devices are poised to push smartphones aside.” In truth, the U.S. sensor market is expected to surpass $15 billion in 2016, causing On World to forecast that by 2017, global shipments of wearable, implantable, and mobile health and fitness devices will be up 552% from 2012.

Welcome to SensorWorld.

Now sensors and data analytics are preparing to go where ‘no man has gone before.’ Tackling an activity we spend a third of our lives ignoring: sleep! Why sleep? The National Sleep Foundation reports that 43% of Americans rarely get a good night’s sleep, and 60% experience a sleep problem almost every night. A recent Gallup poll revealed that since 1942, the amount of sleep we get has decreased roughly a half an hour per night and continues to trend downward. And the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) claims over 9 million Americans currently rely on a pharmaceutical to fall asleep.

According to technology pioneer, and inventor of the world’s first camera phone,Philippe Kahn, our growing problem with sleep began during the Industrial Revolution when “the mythical eight-hour sleep night” was fabricated to extract longer hours from factory workers. “Before the Industrial Revolution,” Kahn explained, “people were mostly sleeping in two shifts… nobody was really sleeping eight hours straight.” He continued, “The concept that we have to sleep in uninterrupted ways all the time, in a perfectly quiet environment, in a perfectly dark room… to me is a misconception and something that is misleading people to understand how to optimize their sleep.”

Kahn stumbled on the idea of “budgeting” sleep on a record-setting, two-man Transpacific sailing trip in 2009. With a two-person crew, each person is allowed to sleep for only brief periods of time. So Kahn decided to use his sailboat as a laboratory to determine the amount of sleep that produced the highest levels of alertness and energy. He discovered that number was twenty-six minutes. From that point on Kahn began modeling his sleep after his dog – short periods of deep rest with the ability to wake at a moment’s notice in a high state of “readiness,” and then quickly return to a deep sleep. Kahn claims that from an evolutionary standpoint this is the way humans were designed to sleep – they function best when sleep is “budgeted” for, and “optimized,” in the same way we do investment planning – only when it comes to sleep, returns are measured in terms of health and productivity.

Enter Kahn’s latest breakthrough in sensor and data analytics technology: the Smart Bed. The Smart Bed replaces the traditional “box-spring” with a sensor-based unit designed to monitor movement, body temperature and other metrics so we can optimize when and how much we sleep. The Smart Bed and Sleep Tracker was developed by Kahn’s company Fullpower – an enterprise focused on precise, non-invasive data monitoring and analysis. According to Kahn, sleep was a logical application for his company because of the number of hours humans spend sleeping, the mythology surrounding the need for a continuous eight-hour rest, and his personal revelations while sailing. Kahn observes, “Sleep is a bit like the deep ocean. We know it is there but we don’t understand it well. Modern science doesn’t understand sleep very well because it is very difficult to monitor sleep in a non-invasive way.” With the new Smart Bed, Kahn is poised to revolutionize the way humans rest and the effect this will have on efficiency, output, health and ultimately, longevity.

While Fullpower is pushing the frontiers of sleep technology, other companies are leveraging sensor and data analytics technologies to optimize other areas. Pixie Scientific, is embedding sensors into “smart diapers” that will allow diseases, dehydration and nutritional deficiencies to be detected in diapers. Intel’s new Smart Band tracks, monitors and analyzes the tremor patterns of Parkinson’s patients, and a new generation of smart pills and monitoring patches from Proteus are in the works. Peter Reinhart, Director of the Institute for Applied Life Sciences for the University of Massachusetts recently revealed that sensor technologies would soon shift from diagnosis to treatment, “As we get better and better at this, we’re going to find that new therapeutic options are going to be open to us. Identifying an Alzheimer’s patient at the [observable] behavioral point, when 70 percent of the brain mass has already disappeared, really limits the number of therapeutic options you can provide that patient. If you could identify someone like that seven or eight years earlier, it now opens up a very different array of intervention strategies.”

But, as Kahn points out, collecting and translating data is only half the story. The other half is connecting to devices, which will be automatically instructed by the analyzed data. Google’s Nest offers a home app that uses sensors, analytics and the internet to connect everything from your thermostat to your fire alarms and home security system. Apple has launched a similar IoT application called HomeKit. According to Kahn, the Smart Bed will have the ability to turn your bedroom thermostat down when your body is at rest and turn the heat back up when the bed senses you are waking. It will lift the shades in your bedroom, signal the hot water heater to ready the shower, and the coffee machine to prepare your coffee just the way you like it. And if that sounds like the stuff of science fiction, look again. Theo Priestly, technology strategist and Forbes contributor claims the IoT will be comprised of 50 billion interconnected devices before 2020 – representing a whopping $19 trillion market. Fitbit, smart watches, smart clothing, diapers and beds are just the beginning. Within the next five years, sensors will monitor, customize and automate everything.

Are you ready for SensorWorld?

Follow Rebecca Costa on Twitter: twitter.com/rebeccacosta
Read the original article @ Huffington Post

The Costa Report interview with Philippe Kahn

Week of Mar 21, 2016 : Philippe Kahn

philippe-kahn-costa-report

Philippe Kahn is a entrepreneur, technology innovator, and founder of four technology companies: Fullpower Technologies, LightSurf Technologies, Starfish Software and Borland. Kahn is credited with creating the first complete camera phone solution, sharing pictures instantly on public networks, and is considered a pioneer for wearable technology, and intellectual property. He is also the inventor of 100 technology patents covering wearable & IoT, eyewear, smartphone, mobile, imaging, wireless, synchronization and medical technologies. Currently the CEO of Fullpower, Kahn leads the creative team behind the MotionX 24/7 wearable technology platform, an innovation at the core of solutions by Nike and Jawbone among others.

Vist Rebeccacosta.com to listen.