Future do-good innovations

Time to get inspired! We've dreamt up some ideas that marry function and social value.

This story appears in the April 2015 issue of strategy.

Humour us for a minute and tap into your visual cortex, will you? Imagine being an inventor of things that provide functional and social value. What would your creations look like? While you think about that, take inspiration from some innovations we came up with and would love to see brands create.

A self-aware recycling bin

Perfect for: a packaging-heavy brand, like Kellogg’s.

We propose the invention of a self-aware recycle bin. Recycling, after all, can be difficult to grasp. What goes in and what stays out? This bin would be conscious of what items are being chucked and would (gently) tell its owner to think again if the item isn’t recyclable (in a voice of your choice: think Mr. T announcing he “pities the fool who puts batteries in his bin”). It would track what’s been recycled and present a stat, like how much plastic was saved from going into a landfill, to motivate the owner to keep at it.

Look ma, no sunburn

Perfect for: a sunscreen brand, like Coppertone.

Some parents will resort to bribery to get their kids to cover their skin with lotion when they go outside. But what if there was a sunscreen that turned the time-sucking application into a game? Kids would apply the special high-SPF cream, and then use an app on a mobile device to scan their skin and check that they’ve got every inch covered. The specially-formulated sunscreen would be detected by the device’s camera and shown on the screen via augmented reality, revealing exact coverage. And like any good game, they could earn points and compete against friends.

Waste water no more

Perfect for: A water purifying brand, like Brita.

Did you know earth-conscious people can buy a shower head that turns off after running for a certain amount of time? How about we take that further and create a personal bot that keeps track of how much water a household uses on a daily basis? The connected robot (which can communicate with your phone) would set green limits for water consumption in each room, focusing mainly on the bath and kitchen spouts, as well as the garden hose and washing machine, sending alerts when you use too much. It would also suggest ways to curb water use, like abstaining from doing laundry that day, to help you meet your goal.

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