TED Talk videos have to be one of the best things to come out of the internet, period. You could spend hours browsing the TED site, watching videos on everything from printing organs with a 3D printer to the power of introverts.
For anyone who somehow hasn’t heard about these groundbreaking talks, the idea behind them is this: TED began as a conference on technology, entertainment, and design, where people shared ideas in the form of powerful talks of 18 minutes or less. The organization’s mission today is to use the power of ideas to change our behavior, our thinking, and the world at large.
Today, the TED talks cover almost every topic you can think of, but there are still a great number that are focused on design, innovation, and invention of all types. Here’s our pick of six (we just couldn’t stop at five) great TED Talks to inspire inventors and product designers.
Google Creative Lab’s creative director Tom Uglow discusses how designers are working on moving toward an internet that’s more natural and richer than the one we currently experience through screens. By creating tangible objects that can integrate with digital data, he says humans can move toward “happy place” where we can access information as easily and naturally as flipping on a light switch.
Oxman is a designer and architect who pulls from computational design, synthetic biology, and other forward-looking fields. In this talk, she discusses how she and her team are creating the next stage of symbiosis between our organic bodies and the products and buildings we create.
Imagine a tiny, aerial robot that can create high-resolution maps of the areas it flies over. Well, roboticist Vijay Kumar did, and then he and his team at the University of Pennsylvania built them. One of the things these robots are doing currently is called Precision Farming: mapping and analyzing every plant and fruit in an orchard, giving farmers the information they need to manage water better and produce higher yields.
It’s true that this talk, by the bestselling author of the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, is not about science or invention. However, it’s a wonderful talk for anyone who works in a creative field to watch. Gilbert discusses the fear that comes with creativity—the fear that once you’ve succeeded with something, everything else you do will fall short—and how she’s kept that fear at bay.
Mills is a technologist working with the tech company Aurasma, which is creating an augmented reality app for mobile phones. The way it works is this: point the phone at whatever it is you’re seeing, like a movie poster. Seamlessly, the phone recognizes the image and launches the movie trailer for the film, almost as if the poster has come to life. Watch the talk to see what Aurasma can do with a painting of a famous poet.
Using the example of the city of Venice, which is sinking into the sea, sustainability innovator Rachel Armstrong proposes a new kind of architecture. She’s working with a team of architects and scientists on creating building materials that can grow, repair themselves, and even sequester carbon. These almost-living protocells could become the next stage of architecture: buildings that make it difficult to tell whether they were created by man or grown by nature.
We hope this dose of inspiration helps you jump-start your own creative process, whether you’re a product designer, engineer, or innovator. If Pivot can help you during any part of your product creation—we offer design services, prototyping, manufacturing services, and even business development services—let us know. Contact us here.