“Creativity is simply connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they really didn’t do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” –Steve Jobs

This past week at the GlassBuild show in Atlanta, I was searching for innovations and the connections that brought them to life. Having lost count at over 100 booth signs labeled with “innovation” and even an entire section of the show floor dedicated to innovation, it became obvious that there were many definitions behind the signs. Some of the innovation types on display were:

  • Extensions: Innovations that made an existing large item smaller, or a smaller item larger;
  • Inflations: Innovations that expand existing technology into different products or services; and
  • Connections: Innovations that bring previously diversified ideas into a new product.

All these types of innovation are important to the evolution of the industry, but I feel like the connection innovations are the most impactful. Of all the items I reviewed at the show, these six seemed to fit the best into that category:

  1. Quanex revealed its high-temp glazing bead that brings together a resistant polymer and a roll-formed aluminum interior. These beads should withstand extreme temperatures.
  2. Rochester Colonial and Caldwell unveiled the FoldUp window. This product combines the look of a double-hung with the compression seal advantages of a projected window. It also allows smaller-sized egress products
  3. EDTM demonstrated its new U-value field tester and software. This development will allow real-time thermal values to be measured by combining the portability of their other devices and the hot-box ideas from test labs.
  4. FeneTech demonstrated its latest glass inspection stations that automate defect detection. This device combines scanner technology and the use of lasers to “see” all the aspects of quality.
  5. Savio hardware was showing a fluid-activated hinge that automatically and smoothly closes a door. This combines the tech of hydraulics and the existing hinge design.
  6. Deceuninck revealed its new polyurethane pultrusions that combine the existing fiberglass tech with the advantages of urethane.

And although Flexscreen was not exhibiting, there were many talking about their new product that combines a minimal and flexible frame with existing screen technology.

These products will make an impact in our industry and should serve as models for your innovation team. I suggest you evaluate the new product projects in your portfolio and place them into these three categories. Your allocation should reveal at least 20 percent of your projects are in the connection category.

Please let me know how your innovation is going by emailing raygarries@gmail.com and see more innovative ideas at the Fenestration Innovation Network on LinkedIn.

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