Innovating Through the Metaverse

So what exactly is the Metaverse? The phrase, coined in 1992 by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in the novel Snow Crash, often is seen as a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal, and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets. This could be seen as the future evolution of the Internet and social connection.

This still developing world could encompass everything from gamers playing the latest 3D video games to doctors treating a patient in a virtual, immersive environment, which will help aid them in making decisions faster. Still, the Metaverse is not quite here yet. But already, some retailers use augmented reality so that consumers can design a room in in their home, for example, or so that the user can see how a home improvement project may turn out. This could be seen as just the beginning of how consumers might use the Metaverse in their daily lives.

Diving Deeper Into the Metaverse

If we try to explore the topic on a deeper level, according to ChatGPT, the Metaverse is a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the Internet. It is an immersive environment that combines elements of both real and virtual worlds so users can interact with each other in a simulated world. Meanwhile, according to the University of California, Berkeley, the eight key technologies in the Metaverse are: Extended Reality, User Interactivity, Artificial intelligence, Block Chain, Computing Vision, Internet of Things, Robotics, Edge and Cloud Computing and Future Mobile networks. Simple, right? That’s a lot of technical advancements that encompass the elements that are relevant to the Metaverse.

With so many advancements falling under this Metaverse umbrella, it is understandable if there is some confusion about the phrase and what the future might entail. But how can innovators respond to and adapt to the Metaverse of the future? For one thing, innovators may be able to leverage the Metaverse through enhanced collaboration, visualization and optimization. In other words, it may help innovation teams to communicate, create and innovate faster and more efficiently in terms of strategy and product development.

Innovators can further leverage the Metaverse to create immersive 3D experiences for users, develop virtual reality applications and games, or create digital marketplaces where consumers can buy and sell goods or services. The Metaverse could also be seen as a platform for connecting with customers through interactive avatars, hosting events such as virtual conferences and workshops, or creating accessible educational content.

This virtual universe provides the potential for unprecedented innovation. By providing users with access to an immersive, shared digital environment, the Metaverse can enable new forms of collaboration and communication, as well as facilitate creativity in ways not previously possible. Marketing campaigns and customer service interactions could also play a role in the future. Experts also point out that the open-source nature of this platform allows innovators from around the world to contribute their ideas and skill sets in order to develop new technologies that could revolutionize our lives.

Seeing The Metaverse

In this Front End of Innovation session, “What is the Metaverse, and Why Should I Care?,” to be held May 16, 2023, Leslie Shannon, Head of Ecosystem and Trend Scouting, Nokia, will look at all the different flavors of Metaverse out there today and assess the purpose and utility of one, then look ahead to the Metaverse of the future. She takes a concrete approach that will leave attendees with both an understanding of what the Metaverse is, and where their best opportunities in the space may be.

See Leslie Shannon, Head of Ecosystem and Trend Scouting, Nokia, at FEI 2023.

Perspectives On Corporate Venturing

There are many advantages and benefits to this type of corporate partnership, for both the corporate and start-up sides. Relationship building is key to this two-way partnership between corporate investors and the start-up, as is lessons learned and adding value. The acceleration of innovation through new technology can also be a significant benefit to the venture.

Innovating Advantages

What is corporate venturing? According to ChatGPT, corporate venturing is a business strategy in which large companies create or invest in small start-up businesses to gain access to new products, technologies, markets, and talent. Corporate venture capital (CVC) refers to when a company invests its own funds into startups with the expectation of financial returns.

Through this process, there can be many advantages for the corporation as well as the start-up in terms of innovation. For one thing, there is access to new markets. Corporate venturing allows companies to gain access to new markets and customers. This can open up potential opportunities for growth, as well as provide a platform for launching innovative products and services.

There is also the potential for increased innovation. By engaging in corporate venturing, companies can spur their own internal innovation processes by leveraging external resources such as venture capital firms or entrepreneurs with specialized skill sets that may be unavailable internally. This can create an environment conducive to rapid prototyping and product development cycles, allowing for faster time-to-market of new products and services.

Other benefits include improved financial return. Through corporate venturing, companies are able to benefit from the upside potential of investing in early stage start-ups while mitigating much of the risk associated with more traditional investments through diversification strategies such as co-investment partnerships or shared ownership models between multiple investors/corporations.

Through corporate venturing, businesses can also enhance their capabilities and innovation research and development, acquiring valuable intellectual property rights or technology assets that enable them to develop competitive advantages over competitors who lack similar capabilities or resources. This could range from exclusive deals on patents/licenses related to software development tools all the way through strategic acquisitions of start-ups offering disruptive technologies within a specific market sector.

Engaging Partnerships

During our Start-up Partnership Roundtable, the community took a look back at past partnerships and understanding lessons learned from failures and successes. Chris Varley, Principal, Goodyear Ventures, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and Scot Wingo, CEO, Spiffy, sparked the conversation focused on blending faster/cheaper and bigger/better within a structure that works for each entity. The session dove into examining new partnerships with evolved systems of engagement. The overall goal: To ensure that each partnership is viewed as a unique collaboration while infusing each combined initiative with overall established wisdom.

Both corporate and start-up also need to focus on readiness, flexibility, communication and collaboration. Resources must be made available to the corporate venturing team to succeed in its mission, as both the corporate and start-up sides find a common language as they set strategy, define the investment approach, and create other organizational elements for a roadmap to success.

See Milan Ivosevic at FEI 2023

Milan Ivosevic, VP of R&D and Innovations, CooperSurgical, joins this year’s FEI (Front End of Innovation) conference. In the seminar, “Corporate Venturing: End-to-End Product Innovation Framework,” an integrated end-to-end framework of innovation and new product delivery process will be presented. The framework consists of the two principal parts: 1. Opportunity incubation― innovation spiral and 2. Product delivery― stage-gate execution. The leading premise is that a holistic understanding of sequential dependency and causal interplay between key building blocks along the entire voyage from inspiration to desired outcome could significantly increase the odds for success when engaged in entrepreneurial innovations in an enterprise environment.

Key Takeaways

  • The proposed end-to-end product innovation approach is an enterprise tested conceptual framework which help us understand cadence of interdependent steps essential for retiring main risks while building confidence toward desired outcomes.
  • A rigorously and holistically incubated solution based on human-centered design principles maximizes our chances for predictable product development and makes commercial success more attainable.
  • No one can guarantee victory in a novel and innovative entrepreneurial pursuit, however, systematically and iteratively answering the right questions at the right stage of a solution inception could maximize the odds for success and help discover potential flaws before significant time and resources are spent.
  • We are ready to move to product development when we produce adequate evidence and build sufficient confidence that the solution is desirable, feasible, scalable and business viable.

See Milan Ivosevic, VP of R&D and Innovations, CooperSurgical at FEI 2023 (Front End of Innovation). Front End of Innovation returns May 16-18 in Boston, MA.

15 Second Workday

What is ChatGPT?

If you haven’t heard about it yet, ChatGPT is an AI-powered program created by OpenAI. It uses advanced machine learning techniques to generate human-like responses to text inputs, allowing people to have conversations with it. Essentially, it’s a computer program that can understand and generate text in a way that resembles human language. Open AI has also developed a companion model called DALL·E that generates images from textual descriptions.  Both programs are in beta testing mode and are free to use for those who create an account at  OpenAI’s programs are examples of number of AI programs popping up around the internet currently.

ChatGPT for Innovation

In principle, innovation professionals can leverage ChatGPT in several ways, including:

  • Marketing – Creating engaging and informative content for customers, such as blog posts, social media updates, ad copy and newsletters.  The system will even write this content in the lingo of your key demographic if requested.
  • Research and development: Testing hypotheses, performing data analysis, writing and editing reports, and assisting innovation professionals in driving research and development efforts more efficiently and effectively.
  • Prototyping and user testing: Creating new product and service ideas and integrating into user testing environments to gather feedback from real users.
  • Concept validation: Validating new concepts and ideas by generating text-based prototypes and simulations, allowing innovation professionals to quickly assess viability and identify areas for improvement.
  • Customer or consumer insights: Analyzing large amounts of customer data and generating insights, helping innovation professionals understand customer needs, behaviors, and preferences better.

These are just a few of the ways innovation professionals can use ChatGPT for driving innovation in a variety of industries.

Example:  New Cat Food Concepts

In prep for writing this blog post, I gave ChatGPT a general prompt based my recent adoption of a kitten:  Generate 10 cat food concepts.  In five seconds, it generated:

  • Grain-Free Gourmet: A premium cat food line featuring high-quality, grain-free ingredients, such as wild-caught fish, cage-free poultry, and grass-fed beef.
  • Hairball Control: A specialized cat food line designed to help reduce hairballs in cats, with added fiber and enzymes to aid digestion.
  • Senior Health: A cat food line tailored to meet the unique nutritional needs of older cats, with added vitamins and minerals to support joint health and cognitive function.
  • Limited Ingredient: A cat food line made with a limited number of high-quality ingredients, ideal for cats with food sensitivities or allergies.
  • Weight Management: A cat food line designed to help cats maintain a healthy weight, with a balanced blend of protein, fiber, and fat to support lean muscle mass and reduce fat storage.
  • Novel Protein: A cat food line featuring novel protein sources, such as venison, rabbit, or kangaroo, to provide cats with a unique flavor experience while minimizing the risk of food sensitivities.
  • Farm-to-Table: A cat food line made with locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients, such as organic chicken, pasture-raised lamb, and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  • Digestive Health: A cat food line formulated with probiotics and prebiotics to promote healthy digestion and reduce gastrointestinal issues in cats.
  • Indoor Cat: A cat food line designed for cats who primarily live indoors, with added fiber to help prevent hairballs and reduce litter box odors.
  • Kitten Development: A cat food line formulated to meet the unique nutritional needs of growing kittens, with added protein, calcium, and DHA to support healthy bone and brain development.

Not bad, but kind of ho-hum.  Some of these concepts can be found in abundance in the market.

I then asked, “generate some unique cat food concepts – ones you wouldn’t expect” and here are some of the options it returned:

  • Insect-Infused: A cat food line that incorporates insect protein, such as crickets or mealworms, as a sustainable and nutrient-dense alternative to traditional protein sources.
  • Superfood Fusion: A cat food line that blends high-quality protein sources, such as salmon or chicken, with superfoods like kale, chia seeds, and blueberries, to provide cats with a nutrient-packed meal.
  • Raw Food: A cat food line featuring raw, minimally processed ingredients, such as raw chicken or beef, to provide cats with a more natural and biologically appropriate diet.
  • Fusion Cuisine: A cat food line that blends traditional recipes from around the world, such as Japanese-style tuna with wasabi, or Indian-style chicken curry, to give cats a unique and flavorful dining experience.
  • Smoothie for Cats: A cat food line that incorporates fresh fruits and vegetables into a smoothie-style meal, providing cats with a nutritious and hydrating option.
  • Fish & Cheese Combo: A cat food line that combines the classic flavors of fish and cheese, with options like salmon and cream cheese or tuna and cheddar.
  • Spice it Up: A cat food line that adds spice blends, such as turmeric or ginger, to cat food to provide health benefits and add flavor.
  • Forest Feast: A cat food line featuring wild game, such as venison or wild boar, to provide a unique and flavorful meal for cats.
  • Dessert for Cats: A cat food line that offers sweet treats, such as apple pie or pumpkin spice, for cats who have a sweet tooth.
  • Artisanal Cuisine: A cat food line that features handcrafted recipes made in small batches using locally sourced and organic ingredients, similar to the artisanal food trend in human food.

Better.  Some of these – Raw Food – may not be viable options for mass market but there are some interesting concepts in the list which would be new to the market. For any one of them, one could prompt the program to create a full concept for testing with consumers, ad copy or a script for a TikTok video targeted for cat owners.

Closing Thoughts

It wasn’t long ago that new product innovation would involve a full day of workshops to come up with product concepts for testing. Currently, ChatGPT’s output is basic and needs to be reviewed carefully by an experienced, domain-specific user.  (And of course, always check with your company’s data use and security policies to ensure compliance.) Nevertheless, as is the nature of AI, the program will become better quickly. Applied carefully and in the right way, AI has the potential of significantly reducing the time it takes for many routine innovation tasks.