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GE and Quirky Join Forces in Crowdsourcing Ideas

Words by Leon Kaye

Quirky, founded in 2009, offers a “crowdsourcing” platform for inventors and its community members to share ideas on new gadgets and technologies. GE, founded in the 19th century, has a deep well of patents and has long introduced new products to consumers and businesses. Now the titan of American industry and the lively startup will team up to introduce new products and technologies to Quirky’s large collaborative pool of thinkers--and of course to the public at large.

Wink: Instantly Connected is a new co-branded open innovation platform GE and Quirky announced yesterday. The most exciting news? GE will open up thousands of patents and technologies to the Quirky crowd in the hope new consumer products will roll out to market. The hope is that Quirky’s forward-thinking inventor base and GE’s collection of high-value patents can together result in new, and hopefully fun, cutting-edge products.

This linkage could affect just about everyone, from the gadget geek to the most casual consumer of technology. Technologies once relegated to niche uses could have an application in everyday devices. GE will share with the Quirky community a bevy of patents, including those covering optics, barrier coatings, asset tracking technology and the latest in medical technology. We all know the story how military technologies such as GPS and of course, the Internet, are now a part of our everyday lives. There is no reason to believe a technology simmering in a GE lab for now hidden somewhere under lock and key cannot end up in a device that will wow next year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next year--let alone lead to an invention most of us could actually use. Although, I have to say, the Cork Sprouts currently under evaluation on Quirky are kind of cute.

GE will release thousands of U.S. patents next month, and currently both companies will review a first round of product ideas during an evaluation next week on April 17th. And the Quirky model of sharing revenues will continue: those who are actively engaged in a product’s development share in the profits.

So far reaction has been a guarded optimism. The blog BetaBeat calls this partnership “a fevered TED fantasy come true,” while PandoDaily applauds GE for “taking a right stand on the so-called patent wars,” and expressed hope the Quirky-GE link can help spur innovation at an even faster pace. Regardless of the outcome, we are deeper into a new page where sharing, not hoarding an ideas, has become the norm.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable BrandsInhabitat and Earth911. At Better4Business in Anaheim on May 2, he will join a panel discussing how companies can present their CSR initiatives to the media. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).

[Image credit: Quirky.com]

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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