More Than a Product: Innovation for a New Era

Evolving Products to Platforms in a Changing World

Make the Innovation Useful Out of the Gate

Kymeta makes an innovative flat-panel satellite antenna. These antennas consist of layer upon layer of innovation, from the metamaterials they are made of to the software and electronics that provide their tracking and communications capabilities. Yet as powerful and innovative as the antenna may be, it could have been challenging for an inexperienced person to properly deploy.

Kymeta sought to simplify that process. “We wanted a very easy way for buyers to consume the service, so we developed an end-to-end service, which allows customers who aren’t familiar with satellites to get connectivity. We’re actually allowing our customers to purchase our product and, out of the gate, get a solution that they can then offer their customer base with always-on connectivity. This means they don’t have to worry about going and sourcing satellite capacity, figuring out how they’re going to build a backend to manage that capacity, and so on.”

“If you look at traditional satellite service, you basically have to have an engineer on site to install the satellite equipment and then you have to call the service center to get the equipment attached to the satellite itself.”

– Neville Meijers, Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Kymeta

When products are innovative, they bring something new to the world, pushing and expanding what people think of as possible. In many cases, this can result in new technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), that offer new capabilities before companies and consumers know how to fully unleash their potential. Creating a complementary product or service can help streamline adoption and even create a market for the product the innovative organization has introduced.

Innovation Useful Out of the Gate

Make it Simple

Dataspeed produces a drive-by-wire kit for companies doing research and development in the autonomous vehicle space. Dataspeed’s kit allows auto manufacturers, sensor makers, software developers, and others focused on autonomy to control the steering, braking, shifting, and acceleration in vehicles electronically. A true first mover with hundreds of customers, Dataspeed’s technology has found wide acceptance.

Building a system that is an important part of what Greg calls “the autonomy stack” is not simple. Aside from the amount of code required to effectively tell a vehicle how fast to go and when to turn (not to mention the machine learning required to support “perception”), Dataspeed also has had to solve for interactions with a wide array of vehicle platforms and sensor types. That they are the go-to solution in their industry speaks to how well they have succeeded in mastering this complexity.

“The drive-by-wire kit was the start of our work but that’s not all we provide because we’ve moved up the food chain. We integrate sensors and do actual autonomous development ourselves, converting vehicles not to full-blown autonomy, it’s not there yet, but to limited autonomy. In other words, we’re developing the software stack and using our own drive-bywire kit to build autonomous vehicles.”

– Greg Fleck, Chief Operating Officer, Dataspeed

In Greg’s view, what has driven the broad adoption of Dataspeed’s technology is the high level of vehicle control it provides. “I think the reason the product reached a level of market acceptance is this: It controls the vehicle very well. When a developer sends a message to turn the wheel or whatever, it does it smoothly and consistently every time. And that’s ultimately what an engineer or developer wants—to not have any issues.”

“Ultimately, it’s the simplicity of it, though it’s not so simple because there are tens of thousands of lines of code in there.”

For an innovation to be adopted, a company has to design and manufacture a product in a way that is commercially viable. It also needs to be able to scale up to meet demand. But there is something else that makes an innovation “sticky”: a strong user experience.

Greg touched on several key components of such a user experience. The product needs to perform as advertised. And it needs to do so reliably. But above all, it needs to be simple to use. All the product innovations we have discussed solve complicated problems and are themselves complicated to manufacture. But beyond this, they all have something else in common: a user-centric design that aims to drive adoption through simplicity