Innovation Cannot Happen in Isolation

I’ve heard from a lot of teams that the Innovation Challenge is daunting to them due to the openness of the challenge. It can be hard to come up with a good idea when you don’t have any clue where to start. I’d love to provide a forum for people to put the ideas that they aren’t using for their Innovation Challenge submission to help inspire other teams.

4607’s motto is literally:

It’s right on the front page of our website

It would be awesome to help lower the barrier to entry for this challenge, and facilitate more team participation by collaborating and inspiring each other. An idea you think might be bad, could very well inspire a world-changing idea for another team.

Here are a few thoughts to kick this off:

  • New prosthetic limb designs
  • Exoskeletons for disabled individuals
  • Specialized wheel chairs
  • A new mechanism to keep people physically active while they’re sitting at a desk/working
  • An “active chair” that facilitates activity while you’re sitting in it
  • A robotic chicken that drives around in random directions that you need to chase/catch like that scene from Rocky
  • A pitching machine Roomba - basically a pitching machine that picks up all the baseballs/softballs when you’re done using it
  • A pacer robot for cross country/track and field - something where you can set the pace to a certain speed and then try to keep up with it while running
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Good source of inspiration is past FLL seassons! As a judge is awesome to see what teams came up for each seasson and I am 100% confident that FRC/FTC teams can go even further

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The most important thing with open ended challenges like this is to just get started brainstorming. Even if the initial ideas are “not good”, they often inspire other ideas, some of which are “good” and a few that are “great”. Give it time to develop.

The “mental muscle” that teams will be using to solve the Innovation Challenge is the same one that they use for solving the robot game each year. Some “cross-training” is probably a good thing.

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Many students are watching teachers struggle with remote learning. What are the challenges for teachers (and students) in remote learning, what can we help them with?

One of our math teachers requested a document viewer / phone holder, with the phone camera looking down at a piece of paper. Hooked up to Zoom, it simulates an ‘overhead projector’.

(This is also an opportunity to implement design-school processes like interviewing customers or stakeholders for input in the innovations they want to see.)

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I thought one of the more ingenious things I saw was a 3D printed or lasercut holder for a mirror, that you hook on top of the laptop screen and it holds a small mirror at approximately a 45 degree angle, thereby turning the laptop camera into a document camera.

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We found it helpful to start our brainstorm by coming up with broad categories of problems/opportunities, including:

  • Better sports safety gear
  • Better PT equipment to help people recover from sports injuries
  • Adaptive athletic equipment for people with disabilities
  • Helping people stay motivated to work out
  • Making it easier for people to bike places
  • Maintaining athletic fields/courts

I think having some categories to think about made it a little less intimidating than a blank slate. We also talked about a couple recent examples of fitness+tech innovations just to get the creative juices flowing:

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