Inventing for services and sharing

Although inventing is traditionally associated with building a gadget or an appliance, an invention may just as well be a method or an application that can put to concrete use. An application may, for instance, enable a service or the shared use of an item. These types of applications and businesses are typically referred to as platform economy, of which prime examples are AirBnB, Uber, and Alibaba.

Pupils generally find it challenging to formulate an invention based on an application. However, planning and execution can often be done in the classroom, when the purpose and functions of the application are clear. During the Inventions for Circular Economy in the Classroom module the pupils can be instructed to make and present a prototype of their invention using, for instance, the POP by Marvel (Prototyping on paper) app, if a digital solution for this is preferred. POP may help the audience to understand the workings of the invention enabling a shared use or a service in more detail. The attached video depicts the making of a prototype using the POP app. It also explains how the application works.

There are many advantages to the POP application. It can be used on a computer browser as well as as a smartphone app. All the group’s pupils can participate in designing, sketching, and drawing the screens for the programme. In the video, printable templates are used in the planning of the application. The programme can be put together using a single smartphone, and no other electronics are needed. The programme can be shared with others if the pupil creates a username and a password.

As can be seen, the programme presented above still requires some finishing touches and the development is still in progress. However, the app does offer the opportunity to present an invention for shared use or a service and helps the user and other people determine how the programme could be developed further. Despite simply being made with some paper and a smartphone, and despite not actually involving any programming, it is important that its functions can be presented as they are. Later on, the prototype can be taken to, for instance, a software company. The application can be presented in a similar format to the one used by some mobile application developer teams.