In 1817, Sir William Cubitt innovated the treadmill as a method of reforming prison convicts who got out of line. Today, that "torture" continues. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, fifty million Americans use a treadmill. Sales of treadmills are $1 billion annually of the total $4 billion fitness equipment industry. For this month's LAB, we will use the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to create new-to-the-world concepts for the ubiquitous treadmill.
S.I.T. works by taking one of five patterns (subtraction, task unification, division, multiplication, and attribute dependency) and applying it to an existing product or service. This morphs it into a "virtual product," which is an abstract, ambiguous notion with no clear purpose. We then work backwards (Function Follows Form) to find new and useful benefits or markets for the virtual product.
Here are four innovations created by students at the University of Cincinnati as part of the innovation tools course. They articulated these ideas in a dream catalog, a hypothetical, futuristic catalog that merges marketing insight with innovative design. You can download it here.
1. Extreme Runner: The Extreme Runner provides the ultimate workout for the athlete or experienced runner who loves a challenge. This special treadmill can provide an intense and unique training session or it can be used for extreme competitions.
- Alternating Elevation Width Belt- instead of the tread staying the same width throughout the course of a workout, this treadmill challenges the walker or runner by correlating the width of the tread to the height of the treadmill. By starting out wide when flat, then getting smaller when the user decides to elevate the machine, this treadmill gives the feel of a rock climb or mountain hike in a matter of minutes.
- SIT Tools Used: Attribute Dependency - creating a dependency between the width of the belt and the elevation of the machine; the belt speed and the price of the machine; and the time on the track and the position of the runner on the machine.