Monday, July 19, 2010

Combination Tools

With most areas of life and work getting more complicated, there is a need for innovations that can reduce the number of tools needed to produce a particular result. The bread machine is perhaps the best historical example for this. A single device that delivers all the actions for mixing, rising, and baking a small loaf of bread, which previously required separate tools for each stage, it put bread-making within the reach of millions of people who might otherwise never have attempted it.

It is easy to imagine similar combinations that could come along in the next five years. In music, for example, we are just about ready for a compact recording studio that can be built into a microphone. This might sound like a joke until you realize that the multitrack studio has already been shrunk to about the size of an audio cassette. People complain about having to use a combination printer/copier/scanner/fax, but these devices will make more sense as they get smaller.

You see how important these combination tools are when you look at the influence wielded by companies that introduce the most effective of them. Even something as simple as a tourism directory that includes a real road map can make what came before seem obsolete.