When most people think about innovation today, they often think about groundbreaking new technology. While this is often what leads to exciting new changes, innovation is about more than the latest technology. Instead, it can be about taking a look back in order to move forward. Older methods and technology have a certain reliability and history to them, which can still have untapped potential.
Take a look at Google’s cell phone service, which was announced just in April called Project Fi. What Project Fi does is allow your smartphone to make phone calls, send text messages, and use data all over Wi-Fi, when you have it, and if you don’t, then it uses one of two different traditional cellular networks (Sprint & T-Mobile). This is a great example of repurposing old technology (Wi-Fi) for a new and innovative solution to modern issues. Cell phone reception can still be weak indoors but Wi-Fi is available in so many places that this can largely solve that problem. Additionally, even the fastest cell phone data speeds pale in comparison to typical Wi-Fi speeds, so why not use that instead and save money in the process?
Project Fi is all about saving money, its plans start at $20 per month for unlimited talk/text + $10 for each GB of cell data you buy. Project Fi’s plans only have you pay for data that you use, and refund you for what you don’t. Seems kind of weird to think that for years the envy of cell phone plans were newer, faster, and unlimited data usage, and now the latest smartphone plan is actually encouraging you to use older tech (Wi-Fi) and reward you for using less data than ever (over cell networks anyway).
Use Google as an example and think about ways that you can find a novel use for older technology, equipment, or methods that are reliable like Wi-Fi. If one of the most innovative companies on the planet found a way to do it, then so can you. After all, if innovation is all about thinking outside the box and being creative, then why limit yourself to only the latest tech?
Today’s tech-centric culture is surprisingly looking to the past more than you might think. Consider the popularity of organic and use of simple/natural ingredients in foods at grocers like Whole Foods, or the demand for handmade goods from sellers at Etsy. Try not to think about new technology as a replacement to older methods, but instead a supplement, just another tool in the toolbox of ways that you can accomplish, build, or make something new.
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