Philips Design’s Ideation Quest in Second Life

Mon, Jun 16, 2008

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves” Carl Jung

Philips Design’s Ideation Quest in Second Life (SLURL) explores how to effectively combine the emerging technology of virtual worlds with a customer-centric perspective of open innovation. Co-creation and open innovation are important concepts for Philips Design and part of their vision for design as a catalyst for a better future (see also my earlier post on Philanthropy By Design in Second Life and Designing Lifestyles for 2020 ).

Philips Design Co-creation Island and the Ideation Quest has a soft launch in Second Life on Monday June 16th, 12pm SLT. The aim is to start some communication and to attract people from the Second Life community and Philips Design friends group, and to introduce the island to people “as a place to cooperate and explore the future by design.” There is a schedule on the island showing when members of the Ideation Quest team will be available for questions and tours twice a week.

Josephine Green points out in her paper “Democratizing the future”:

At Philips Design, we believe that we have to challenge and re-think our approach to creating business and values for the future…….It seems that making sense and making sense in the future lies in understanding how people are evolving, engaging with them on a journey of discovery and exploration and co-creating and envisaging the future together.

Philips Design’s vision for co-creation probes deep into core human desires for happiness and love. Fast Company back in 2006 noted how under the leadership of Stefano Marzano Philips Design was taking on the great themes of human existence through design:

“How can we provide more happiness, a more relaxed life,” [Marzano] asks, “without actually entering the utopian idea that the world should change overnight?”

[Marzano] calls design nothing less than a “catalyst for a paradigm change,” the mechanism behind the improvement of the human condition.

I was fortunate enough to witness Josephine Green and Stefano Marzano discuss the theme of Love and Business during a panel at the 2007 Philips Simplicity Event at London’s Earls Court exhibition center. This was also one of the great “aha” moments for me re the potential of virtual worlds. And, while I rarely write about the engagement/enhancement of qualities of love as one of the most powerful aspects of the immersive 3D space, this is exemplified clearly in the most successful virtual world to date, Second Life.

While love has many forms, at it’s heart it is about a powerful two way connection. And virtual worlds because they create new possibilities for connection also create new possibilities for love, happiness, and our ability to improve the human condition.

It is clear how people’s love for their fellow humans and this planet is finding new ways to express itself in virtual worlds in all the amazing non profit work done by such groups as Virtual Africa, Global Kids and Non-Profit Commons in Second Life. But, the notion that business (for profit) can work through virtual worlds for a better future where love and happiness is center stage is a more radical notion in contemporary culture. Although, as Business Balls points out in this article, love and business were not always so far apart:

High finance and loving principles rarely appear in the same sentence now, but many regional banks, long since swallowed by the multi-nationals, were once Quaker businesses, run on caring principles.

So how does Ideation Quest engage these themes of play, happiness and love through linking business and customers in co-creation and innovation in Second Life?

I interviewed Dolf Wittkamper, Philips Design Senior Director (Second Life avatar Dolf Rhino) and Thomas Kohler, a Ph.D. candidate in Marketing and Innovation from the University of Innsbruck (Second Life avatar Rein Spire) last week. They have been developing the concept of playful co-creation that uses immersive 3D environment of Second Life to create collaborative relationships in a “playground of ideas.”

The Ideation Quest on the Philips Design Co-creation Island was conceptualized by Dolf and Thomas with Avaty and design support by Apple Antwerp (SL avatar name) and scripting by Dirty Mclean (SL avatar name). Also Slava Kozlov, Philips Design senior people researcher (Second Life avatar Centrasian Wise) supported the whole concept. He is the co-author of an interesting paper called, To Play or not to Play, very relevant in this context. And, Dr. Daniel Stieger and Dr. Johann Füller from HYVE played a substantial role in shaping the concept of the Ideation Quest.

The Ideation Quest explores people’s love of games, ideation and collaboration, for example, through the collection of points which are given by other avatars. An avatar on the Ideation Quest has a so-called ideation meter above their head which is the mechanism to keep score and “participants can collect points along the three dimensions that are considered relevant for innovation: creativity, collaboration, and expertise.”

But, both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards of play are vital to Ideation Quest.

Elements of The Ideation Quest

After an arrival experience where basic questions “Where am I? Why am I here, and what do I want to do?” are answered, the Ideation Quest moves into an inspirational scenario drawn from one of Philips Design’s award winning probes into a sustainable future through off the grid living. This is the heart of the quest that encourages individuals to explore and ideate on the topic together.

Philips Design presented, “Off the Grid: Sustainable Habitat 2020″ in Japan in the AXIS building. “Off the Grid” is part of the Philips Design Probe program and is a continuation of the Skin probe which was listed as “best innovation of 2007″ by Time Magazine and was recognized with a Red Dot “best of the best” award.

Dolf explained:

We call it a Design PROBE. It is in sense a provocation to think fundamentally differently about a topic. A probe is to start a discussion, to shift boundaries and it can ultimately be used to brief technologist to develop in certain directions too. The skin of the building is smart and on the inside there are 4 zones where treatment of water, air, waste and light is explained. We have more SKIN related probes on the site.

In Second Life there are a number of distinctive features to the Probes so users are given a chance to “directly” experience a creative concept, not by just reading about it, but through audio-visually interacting with it in virtual space.

Then the Ideation Quester moves on to the challenges in the third phase. These tasks aim to stimulate creativity by involving avatars in a number of activities.

The first challenging task a user faces is a so-called free word association. Participants are invited to react to a stimuli word and picture and according to how many associations users typed in they get the points. To overcome the second challenge users need to answer a set of knowledge questions and engage in a sentence completion task. Every object holds a multiple-choice question and is related to the question. The questions encourage the acquisition of domain-specific knowledge.

The third one is a brainstorming session. After 4 participants are seated, a brainstorming session is initiated.

The fourth is ideation. Avatars are invited to visualize and express their ideas. In the sandbox area participants can collaborate to innovate and interact in real time. The final task of this stage is for avatars to submit there ideas in the form of a 3D model, in writing or in any graphical representation through a web interface.

In the final stage of the quest participants are able to review comment and judge other submissions.

How does Ideation Quest reward all the participants in co-creation?

Tara5 Oh: What are the rewards for individual participants in being involved in a co-creation project like this?

Dolf Rhino: Good point. We believe we have to give before we can expect anything back. What we are giving here is sharing scenarios and ideas about a sustainanble living in 2020 and how a building could be disconnected from the grid. Water, light, waste and air are considered and collected through the skin of the building.

Rein Spire: Research has demonstrated that participants of co-creation are partly motivated by the process itself – meaning that they enjoy the creative process. The IQ aims toward facilitating such compelling experiences.

Dolf Rhino: But we think it is also important to celebrate the winner with some relevant present.

Tara5 Oh: And how do issues of IP work? I know Wikitecture has many meetings about thinking about ways to credit and recognize peoples roles in the design process?

Dolf Rhino: Our ongoing exploration and research on this topic has the purpose to clarify this. We think there are good solutions.

Rein Spire: One option would be to reward the ideas that will be commercialized. But as you say if more people are involved there needs to be a fair mechanism in place. In the case of the Ideation Quest the most active participants will be rewarded with material prizes but again the approach is directed to not only depend on extrinsic rewards but to intrinsically motivate customers.

Tara5 Oh: But the designs are not owned in common, i.e. participants will have to sign a contract that gives rights to Philips?

Rein Spire: Everybody can review the ideas – so its open – but Philips retains right to use, publish and eventually commercialize.

Tara5 Oh: Wouldn’t you think that with a more radical approach to IP you might get a higher lever of collaboration?

Dolf Rhino: In the exploration we want to try various ways. The beauty is that the only way it will work is when we have a model which is valuable for everyone.

Tara5 Oh: Is Ideation Quest aimed not so much in professional designers but at customers?

Rein Spire: I think all kinds of users can take on various roles and bring in different contributions. If, for instance, they are not designers they can still review and comment other ideas or designs.

Dolf Rhino: The focus now is a broad audience

Tara5 Oh: But the challenges of working out IP would be more complex in a community of professional designers wouldn’t it?

Rein Spire: I agree and a more flexible approach to IP would presumable facilitate participation.

Dolf Rhino: Yes, if that is the focus then we need to present and work differently.

Tara5 Oh: I suppose my question is have you though about taking this model of ideation into the level of high end design?

Dolf Rhino:
We take one step at a time and the 2 elements: co creation and VWs are complex enough to master at this moment.

Tara5 Oh: Yes I agree! And would you say as Philips already does quite a lot of customer collaboration in RL and this is why you decided to start in this way?

Dolf Rhino: That’s right.

Rein Spire: I think the degree of a company’s involvement is a different for open source and for this kind of co-creation. To me this approach is about providing a platform to empower customers, to allow them to enter an active dialogue with products or companies they care about. On the one side companies are opening up their doors to involve participants and on the customer side, people want to be involved during all phases of value creation.

Picture of Philips Design Co-creation Island in Second Life

Next Steps

We can expect more in the future on the Philips Design Co-creation Island. It has amongst others 2 areas in progress Poeme Electronique and Next Simplicity.

There is also another Ideation Quest in Second Life – on the topic of the future motorbike experience together with KTM.

categories: 3D internet, manufacturing 2.0, open metaverse, Second Life, social gaming, social media, Virtual Citizenship, virtual communities, virtual world standards, Virtual Worlds, Web 2.0, Web 3D, Web3.D, World 2.0
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3 Comments For This Post

  1. csven Says:

    So besides your notification on Twitter (and perhaps listing this on SL’s Events), where did this get publicized? Did you learn of this through the Philips SL Group (to which I applied but never heard back and now probably wouldn’t care to join)? And if Philips isn’t going to get the word out with more enthusiasm, how do they expect this to succeed? especially with a huge gimme-all-your-goodies approach like this: “but Philips retains right to use, publish and eventually commercialize.” (FAIL)

    Other than the fact that Philips is *in* Second Life, I’ve seen no reason to be impressed, I’m sorry to say. When I’d first heard they were entering SL, I had relatively high hopes. Now I’m hoping another design group takes up the challenge; and if frog design can finally move beyond “object is the story” thinking, I’d be happy to see them.

  2. admin Says:

    Hi Csven – Yes as far as I know the only place it was publicized was the PHilips Design Friends Group. There is a new group now too now called Ideation Quest plus Live Journal Updates Philips Design journal, They are looking for feed back!

  3. Tom Spire Says:

    Hey Csven,

    the Ideation Quest is reallly an experiment has not been announced with great fanfare. I agree that a more innovative approach than the traditional as you call it “gimme-all-your-goodies” way would be beneficial. What kind of modell would you suggest?
    Whats your SL name so that I can invite you also to the Ideation Quest group?

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  1. Pedro Meya Marty - Agentur für Virtuelle Welten wie Second Life » Blog Archive » Virtuelle Welten: Die Zeit der konkreten Anwendungen kommt Says:

    [...] Philips nutzt die Virtuelle Welt von Second Life für das Crowdsourcing. Philips Design’s Ideation Quest in Second Life (SLURL) explores how to effectively combine the emerging technology of virtual worlds with a customer-centric perspective of open innovation. The aim is to start some communication and to attract people from the Second Life community and Philips Design friends group, and to introduce the island to people “as a place to cooperate and explore the future by design.” [...]