Friday 27 April 2012

Innov-Ex 2012: A Belated Report

Design Award Winner Jenni Campbell
Disappearing off to Wales (of which more in a future post) after the Pertex sponsored Innov-Ex Conference means that it's a week since I left Lancaster with my head buzzing with ideas and thoughts. This conference on the outdoor industry is always interesting and stimulating, both in the formal talks and discussions and in the conversations over coffees, food and beers.

The speakers I'd been looking forward to didn't let me down. Don Gladstone of ExploreRED described his project to track the life of outdoor garments and to look at mechanisms for moving them on when they are either no longer needed or worn out, including the idea of a reuse initiative in outdoor stores so retailers could resell restored gear. Don also raised one of the dilemmas of consumerism and the environment. Making less stuff saves resources and energy and reduces pollution. But what happens to those people whose living depends on making that stuff?

Phil Sorrell of Social Hiking
The other talk I was particularly interested in was Phil Sorrell - Daylight Gambler - on Web Apps, the Outdoors & Social Media. Phil ran through the development of social media and looked at all the options available today - some of which I have to admit to never heard of before (bambusa, foursquare?) before going on to describe his own Social Hiking app. He also asked the audience which social media they used and virtually everybody was on Twitter and Facebook with slightly fewer on Google +. Appropriately several people, including myself, were tweeting during the conference using the hashtag Innov-Ex. Phil's talk was fascinating but I needn't describe it in any more detail here as he has put his presentation on his website here.

On the subject of Twitter Veronica Legg, in her interesting talk on designing outdoor clothing and the surveys she has undertaken to see what users want, said that it was useful for gaining information from expert users unlike Facebook. She talked of analyzing what people wanted as democratising innovation and pointed out that 50-70% of outdoor gear was designed by lead users.

Veronica Legg was the winner of the Innov-Ex Design Award back in 2010. This year's winner was Jenni Campbell, a graduate of Strathclyde University, for her Cleat Feet, a system by which a running shoe can be quickly converted into a cycling shoe, something very useful for adventure racers. I was one of the judges and we were impressed by the practicality of the product and the fact that it was a finished item and not just a prototype or an idea. I expect to hear more of Cleat Feat and Jenni Campbell. The formal announcement of the award is here

1 comment:

  1. "But what happens to those people whose living depends on making that stuff"?

    Sad though it is Chris, the same as happens to anyone's living when,for whatever reason, consumer behaviour changes; the same as happened to the thousands upon thousands of people who lost their jobs when UK clothing manufacturers moved their production to low wage countries, outdoor equipment companies included, when consumers wanted goods on the cheap.

    I doubt many of us think about the jobs lost when we make buying decisions. Mind you, judging by the obsession with gear these days, I wonder whether those you refer to have much to worry about!