Lessons on vision & innovation from Apple

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Fast Company writer, Kit Eaton, has a story out on Apple’s recent rumored acquisition of smart assistant app maker, Cue, and points us back to what has always been Apple’s vision for the future.

He boils down what he think this acquisition means for Siri’s future:

“…Apple has longer-term plans for Siri’s tech, Cue’s algorithms, and whatever other apps and hardware startups it buys in the near future. This is particularly true if it is also aligning its future Mac OS with the developments of iOS 8. What Apple may do is wind intelligent question-and-answer natural language systems through iOS on a deeper level, and build in more automatic “before you knew you needed it” technology, dissolving the idea of Siri as an extra to the OS. “

Now, prepare yourself to be blown away. Keep in mind this video is from 1987! Does your company or organization have this sort of vision? Can your organization innovate this far into the future?

Here are the two lessons on innovating that I take from this:

1) You don’t have to re-invent the wheel to radically innovate. You just need to have the forsight to put together the elements needed. There are reports that Steve Jobs was exposed to early applications of touch screen technology, and simply improved it and found practical consumer applications for it. As with most things, it’s not about who invents it, but rather who can present a solution to consumer challenges (known or unknown).

2) You have to dare to think beyond what is currently thought of as possible. Steve Jobs was great at this — thinking outside of what the accepted notions were about what consumers wanted or needed.

Bill Buxton reports on how Apple might have first gotten exposed to early research being done on multi-touch technology.

Multi-touch technologies have a long history.  To put it in perspective, my group at the University of Toronto was working on multi-touch in 1984 (Lee, Buxton & Smith, 1985), the same year that the first Macintosh computer was released, and we were not the first.  Furthermore, during the development of the iPhone, Apple was very much aware of the history of multi-touch, dating at least back to 1982, and the use of the pinch gesture, dating back to 1983.  This is clearly demonstrated by the bibliography of the PhD thesis of Wayne Westerman, co-founder of FingerWorks, a company that Apple acquired early in 2005, and now an Apple employee

Also, NPR has a great visual timeline on the history of touch screen technology. It’s worth checking out.

Related: 

 Acquisition story from cNet.

Wired: She’s Not Talking About It, But Siri Is Plotting World Domination

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