It was an article published by the Harvard Business Review that stated: “In practice, most crowdsourcing initiatives end up with an overwhelming amount of useless ideas.” Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, though we thought we’d outline some of the top crowdsourced inventions in recent times.
In a variation of crowdsourcing initial ideas, there are also numerous products that only made it to market through crowdsourcing early pre-orders by using reward-based crowdfunding. Without that support, many products that many people use and enjoy may never have left the drawing board. This selection covers both interpretations.
- The Foldscope is a low-cost, portable microscope that can be assembled from a flat sheet of paper.
- The LIFESAVER water bottle uses a filtration system to turn dirty water into clean, drinkable water.
- The OpenROV underwater drone is designed for exploring and mapping underwater environments.
- The SunSaluter, a low-cost solar panel rotation device, increases the efficiency of solar panels by 30%. Its non-electric method of tracking the sun’s movement during the day was invented by a 19-year-old mechanical engineering student at Princeton University.
- WikiHouse is an open-source project for designing and building houses that was initiated in the summer of 2011. The end result allows anyone to design and build their own houses using CNC-cut plywood panels.
- The Oru Kayak is a foldable kayak that can be easily transported and stored. A successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 enabled the inventor’s company to hit the ground running.
- The Square Foot Gardening Method allows people to grow a large amount of produce in a small space through the use of raised beds and intensive planting techniques.
- The LifeStraw is a portable water filter that was first designed in 1994 to remove harmful bacteria and parasites from water, making it safe to drink. Through its Give Back Program, LifeStraw donates equipment for schools in emerging and developing economies to provide parasite-free water to their students.
- Open Source Ecology is a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters that build open-source industrial machines that can be made for a fraction of commercial cost. It increases innovation through open collaboration.
- The Raspberry Pi is a tiny, low-cost computer that has been used in a wide variety of projects, including robotics, home automation, and educational programming. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based charity with the mission to enable young people to realise their full potential through the power of computing and digital technologies. The Foundation invites young digital tech creators worldwide to submit creative ideas.
These are just a few examples of many crowdsourced inventions that have been developed over the years. The concept of crowdsourcing has been applied to many different fields and industries, from technology and engineering to design and art, and it has proven to be a powerful tool for fostering innovation and collaboration among people from all over the world.