It sounds easy, doesn’t it? You already have this fantastic technology that’s been tested, prototyped and the first product launched. There’s quite a lot you can do with that one product, if that’s what it is: once it’s on the market somewhere, there’s the potential to find new markets elsewhere. But at some point, you recognize the need and are ready to do more. You’re ready to answer the question, “What else can we do with this great idea?”
Our feature section in this issue focuses on ballistic protection. Bill Smith’s article offers an overview of personal ballistics protection, particularly for law enforcement. Because soft body armor deals specifically with protecting human life, it is appropriate to expect that these products are rigorously tested to meet third-party standards. In other words, the customer knows exactly what he or she is getting, in terms of performance. It’s the kind of reliability that anyone applying a technology to a new application wants.
The focus in the personal protection market seems to be on improving existing applications with new technology, rather than using existing technology in new applications. However, one company, at least, is creating growth opportunities with completely new markets and applications – all by making modifications to their existing auxetics platform, which was first developed for ballistics protection.
But many more new technologies could add value to—or even transform—a potentially enormous variety of applications, expand the capabilities of a business, or even create a whole new industry. Some recent articles on this site serve to illustrate—and maybe fuel the imagination, too:
- Solar cells alone power an airplane on its U.S. coast-to-coast flight
- Stratospheric balloon technology will be used to provide Internet service in remote areas
- Printed large-size solar cells that could power applications from lighting to laptops
- Fabrics made entirely of carbon nanotubes have many potential applications, including high-strength composite materials
- A fog-catching fabric can collect water
Partnerships between researchers and industry are driving innovations at an amazing pace. Who came up with the idea first may not be the salient point; “what can we do to make this happen,” is. Collaborations, in fact, are generally what makes it happen – and not just the first breakthrough, but subsequent developments, growth opportunities and expanding partnerships.
Keep reading! We are not going to run out of things to talk about here.