Read & Respond week 15 – Innovation examples

This week’s readings are simple and designed to prepare you for your own innovation projects. You’ll go to the NYT Labs page and check out some examples of past projects – let’s say 3-4 of them (more is, of course, fine). In your response, you’ll discuss the following:

  • The strongest idea you saw, and what worked about it.
  • The weakest idea you saw, and how it might be improved.
  • How these ideas inform your own project – be specific with regard to what you’re doing and what you can take away from what you’ve read.

Due to my not posting this on time, your due date to respond in a comment to this post is 10a Wednesday, April 22.


20 Responses to Read & Respond week 15 – Innovation examples

  1. Sara Wells says:

    Compendium was the strongest for me- and it related a lot to what I’m doing. I’m creating NYT-pedia, sort of like Wikipedia, where anyone can edit it and contribute information, but it has to be approved by an editor or the reporter who wrote the original story. With Compendium, you can annotate parts that you think are important, however, with NYT-pedia, you can make your information be important. It encourages citizen journalism. I think Compendium is a great tool for those who want to aggregate information from the New York Times, and who want to blog about it. However, I think it is a lot like Pinterest.

    My second favorite idea was Madison- the archival databse of advertisements from the New York Times. I love this idea- and it deals a lot with crowdsourcing, which is one of the main components of what I want to do with my project. It is easy for those working with it to switch platforms and work successfully, which is what I want mine to be able to do. It’s also not overwhelming, and I’m assuming it would be moderated by someone as well.

    Surface reader was the weakest idea that I saw. Of course, it was created in 2011, but there were still iPads, Nooks and Kindles then. I think this is too much like those- almost everything it said you could do is now doable from a much smaller, less expensive piece of technology. The one strong point I really liked about this idea was that you could put your phone on the table and it would recognize which user you were and what articles your friends were reading. Although, I feel like Twitter and Facebook share all of this information, too. If you had the money, this would be cool.

    From these I could take away the idea of simplicity- all of these ideas are very simple and make it easy for the audience/user to be proficient with the technology. None of them are groundbreaking, but they all make sense, and serve a purpose that furthers journalism and technology together.

  2. I really liked the concept and idea behind Mirror. It uses “natural user interfaces”,which interprets voices, gestures, and even our faces, to help create content based on our own surroundings. I would use this feature a lot, especially when getting ready in the mornings. By using a special semi-reflective glass surface, the users of the mirror are able to see both a normal reflection of the real world as well graphics and news. It would also be able to track your sleep habits and personal well being. I like how they are combining and using data in relation to human habits in a unique way. I thought this was a successful and innovative project.

    I also really liked the idea of Madison and how they are archiving thousands of advertisements from years ago and putting them in a central key place. It uses crowdsourcing effectively and seems very user-friendly, which are two components that I hope to add to my own project.

    I thought that Openpaths was one of their weakest projects, But then again, I think we have to consider that this was developed in 2011, so obviously a lot of advancements have been made since then. It’s basically just a central storing area for personal data and location that can be shared with others for research. It seems as though many phones and apps have been doing this for a while now.

    For my own project, I plan to create a website/app to help make content from the NYT more accessible to readers across the globe who speak different languages. This will be done by merging visuals through artwork of the news and events. This tool will make it easier to distribute news comics, while also finding a way where all cultures can connect equally. The comics will cover everything from crime, sports, politics, and lifestyle. As both projects above have successfully accomplished, I hope to make this an easy engagable and shareable form of storytelling. Also, anyone will be able to contribute which will help promote citizen journalism.

  3. paigeczyzewski says:

    Over the past couple of days I have spent a lot of time on the NYT Labs page becoming familiar with the projects and attempting to implement similar designs or ideas to my own interests. I personally thought that the strongest idea was actually the listening table, which we first watched in class. The other apps and tools were interesting, with Julia and Mirror coming in close seconds, but the Listening Table would just be the most useful for me as a journalist. I need to tape all of my interviews, and I seriously enjoy putting audio interviews together and editing them as well. With the listening table, I can really pay attention to the conversation (because I tend to get anxious I won’t have enough to talk about so I zone out in panic) and see what topics came up when. It would definitely change the way I edit and design something like a podcast too. Plus, this could be applied to focus group interviews or maybe even the radio. (And the fact that it wipes away conversations after a certain period of time… very helpful for secret government conversations, eh? always with the theories.)

    The weakest idea, while I agree with the previous two ladies before me about Surface Reader and Open Paths, was probably Custom Times for me. It just seemed like a regular, boring phone app, and while flagging content to read later is a smart feature, I don’t even know if I would remember to go back and read those things. However, if it would have been pitched more from a research angle where you go in and flag to come back to material, and it organizes content based on tags, that could possibly improve it.

    For my own project, I really liked the Chronicle’s tracking of language and the Kepler topic visualizations, so I had the idea of creating a program that scans content for LBGTQ biased phrases or words. Gender neutral and inclusive language has been a topic on the rise, and honestly, I don’t know if everyone realizes just how many different sexes there are out there. It is a serious goal of Women’s and Gender’s Studies departments across the country to transform language into inclusive speech and to alter how the public perceives inclusive communication. (There have been many studies on inclusive communication and key words to help as a language bank.) Since the NYT produces mass amounts of content each year, this could help attain that goal by scanning content before and after publication to fix and track like speech. Additionally, the program could take all of the already archived content and graph the way that language has changed, in regards to inclusivity, over the years. This program could definitely be replicated as well and be applied to other genres of speech such as tracking media or gender bias in the future.

  4. dillondurst says:

    Two of the strongest ideas I saw on the NYT labs page were the Listening Table and the Surface Reader.

    I really liked the Listening Table because it captures and logs conversations (if you want it to do so). For example, this would work great during group work meetings for any class. Most of the time, we have to manually take notes and can miss some important things said at the meeting, or someone could forget something, etc. With the listening table, you and your teammates could have an uninterrupted, free flowing conversation that would be transcribed for you. I also like how you can tap one of the strips on the table to make a note of an important topic or place in the conversation.

    I also liked the Surface Reader because it would be a HUGE benefit to me as a sports journalist, and really any reporter or anyone who interacts with the news on a daily basis. Surface Reader would allow me to have my desk/work area and my laptop all wrapped in one. I also like how you can flip things around to show someone sitting at the other end of the desk. I thought the little Starbucks napkin that popped up when the guy in the video set his coffee down on it was pretty clever, and it’s making money through advertising.

    One of the weaker ideas, in my opinion, was the Mirror. To me, this just seemed like something you can already do on your laptop/iPhone/iPad. This might seem innovative to some who spend a lot of time in front of their mirror, but for me, I maybe look in the mirror for five seconds before I leave my house in the morning, so it wouldn’t benefit me much.

    From all of the ideas I saw on NYT labs, I can take away the idea for my own project that a lot of these innovative ideas are attempting to make people’s lives easier/simpler. That’s really the whole goal of innovation to me. The iPhone allowed us to have a phone, music device, calculator, road map, etc., in one device. My project will aim to do something similar.

  5. chadkriss55 says:

    I think the strongest idea would have to be Julia since it makes a bit more sense to utilize technology to create a delicious meal as well as see step by step instructions on how to make the meal. What really got me to go with Julia was the ability to watch videos on how to prepare certain foods. There have been multiple times where I’ve had to go to Youtube to see how to cut portobello mushrooms.

    The weakest idea was without a doubt the surface reader. To me, it was just a massive, overcomplicated iPad. The last thing I want to do when I get home is find a large screen on top of my coffee table I kick my feet up on.

    For my idea, I’d like to have a chronological topic system where each New York Times article would be scanned and similar words and phrases would be matched and form a timeline on the certain history. This is so each event, big or small, can be recognized and not forgotten within the morgue. The idea really spins off of Lazarus, except you can read what New York Times writers were reporting during World War II on each specific detailed topic than the general information we get today.

  6. From a personal perspective, I really liked Julia: Recipes and a Responsive Kitchen solely because I love to cook. When I’m cooking, according to a recipe in a book or on my phone, I’m constantly getting lost and forgetting where I left off. This innovative idea is designed to make cooking more convenient by digitally offering recipes and instructions step by step right on your counter top. I like how all the ingredients and measurements are laid out on the counter top and it highlights the specific ingredients needed for each step displayed. I also like the sharing component of the idea, where the camera takes a photo of the prepared meal and automatically shares it to social networks.

    From a professional perspective, I think the Listening Table would be most useful for my profession. I like how this innovative device records and notes important topics of conversations. As a public relations professional, I’ll be conducting many in depth and focus group interviews. The Listening Table would make my research life so much easier. It allows your conservations to run smoothly without any interruptions.

    All the ideas featured on NYlabs were well thought, creative and innovative. However, I think the Surface Reader was the weakest. I feel like this idea is just a more complicated version of an iPad or a Kindle. There are too many devices and apps similar to this concept that are lower in cost. Therefore, I don’t think the Surface Reader would succeed.

    After analyzing the NYlab projects, I want to develop an idea that is simple and beneficial personally, professionally and environmentally. My idea is to design a human body scanner that is connected to a 3D clothing fabric printer, which would be distributed throughout clothing stores across the country. When you go shopping, instead of searching through different sizes and trying items on in the fitting room, you can pick a clothing item that attracts your eye, get your body scanned, and then the clothing item is printed out to perfectly fit your figure. No more shuffling through clothing racks, getting alterations, being insecure about your size or wasted clothing materials!

  7. Collen Lewis says:

    Mirror and Julia were the strongest to me since gesture and smart technologies are only going to become more prevalent. The idea of incorporating these features into life are huge. Julia is a fantastic example of streamlining a daily activity. Most people end up wasting ingredients for food that just doesn’t quite taste right, and Julia could ensures you always have the correct amount right in front of you without getting your phone covered in food.

    Mirror in it’s present form isn’t that innovative, but the idea of integrating surfaces in your home is on it’s way. Guests in Bill Gates’ home wear pins to identify themselves to the home where they can receive content tailored to their interests. This is of course ridiculously expensive, but then again so was every product before it was researched and mass-produced.

    The weakest in my opinion would have to be the listening table, I can see the benefits of it in a corporate and public setting. However, I could never justify buying a table like that for my own personal use, and that is who I want to target, the individual.

    Ideas like Loxone ( are a sign that innovations are progressively being built into homes at lower and lower costs. I would like to focus this idea, Mirror touched on health monitoring, but I would like to create an operating system to integrate all aspects of health information. From your account with the system you would be able to link with your doctor and provide information back and forth. This would be especially useful for the elderly audience and has the potential to be expandable.

  8. For me, the innovations focused on NYT images were the strongest. This is probably a bit of a personal bias, but I also felt like this was an area that could really use some innovation. Specifically, I was interested in Lazarus. The idea of an in-depth catalog of the New York Times photo archive is simple, clean and highly-needed. In fact, my idea for this project requires a service like Lazarus to reach its full effect.

    I also enjoyed the idea of Copendium. It sounds a lot like Storify, but has a beautiful interface with a focus on New York Times information. I could see that as a super useful tool when collecting data for an academic study. It makes me want to analyze coverage of West Virginia or the space program over a vast amount of time from one solitary source.

    The weakest post, in my opinion, is for Kepler, a visualization of metadata from the NYT based on tags. I think this is by far the most visually appealing innovation on the site, but I fail to see how it truly solves a problem or addresses a need.

  9. tmertins says:

    After reading through some of the examples, I’m having a really hard time understanding what Streamtools does. It seems weak in the fact that it’s designed for such an inclusive group of people. What is streaming data? Why is the toolset hard to deal with? They make it very difficult to understand the benefits of their tool. This might actually be the most useful idea out of all the examples, but it is not explained in a way where the average person can find the usefulness of it easily unless you already have prior knowledge of exactly what they are referring to.

    I’m a really big fan of Chronicle. It’s very simple and could be an easily inserted visual into any news story. Examples like “words we love too much” show how stories can be derived from this program alone. Another application I can see is the origin of a phrase. When did we start using phrases like “banana oil” or “go soak your head”?

    These innovations are meant to benefit news consumers and journalists in some way. My idea is to help both groups at the same time. Journalists can’t cover everything at once in a timely manner. But a citizen journalist can be anywhere, but lack training and expertise. Being able to show citizen journalists what they need to do to conduct a professional video interview on their mobile device can help make more footage from outside the news world more useable within it.

  10. kmshire says:

    While browsing through all of the innovations on NYT labs, I found the listening table to be the strongest. I like the idea of being able to tap the table to mark important parts of a conversation. As a journalist, this would save me countless hours of listening to lengthy interviews for one quote or point that is relevant to my work.

    I found the Surface Reader to be the weakest of the ideas. While I liked the idea behind it, I think it blundered during the execution. It is the same idea as Kindle or another reader, however, I think it was overstimulating visually. The screen became very cluttered and overwhelming, I definitely would not like that as I am trying to read the paper.

    My idea focuses on the Travel section. When it comes to traveling, many people want to know the best places to see and eat and explore the hidden treasures. The best way to gain this information is to talk to locals or frequent visitors. I plan to make a social media of sorts that connects curious travelers to these “experts.” They will be able to talk, via webcam, and discuss the ins and outs of the destination. They can gain a lot of knowledge from locals about cuisine and good times to travel. They can talk to people who have traveled to the destination previously to find out best hotels and excursions. This will allow travelers to experience the beauty of a destination and appreciate the surroundings and culture they are amidst.

  11. sjl0693 says:

    In my opinion, the listening table was one of the strongest innovations on NYT labs. For someone that wants to become a sports journalist in the future, this table would help me in many ways. I would be able to record conversations easier without having to worry about a phone or recorder device messing it up and I could manage what I did and did not want to highlight in the conversation.

    Like others before me on here, I thought the Surface Reaser was one of the weaker ideas. It basically was a tablet or a kindle and didn’t wow me in any way like some of the other innovations did. While it was from 2011, nothing about it separated it from other things like it in my eyes.

    My idea involves health but can be integrated with devices that are coming out now that you can wear, such as the apple watch or the Fitbit. Within these devices will be a monitor of your health as long as you are wearing the device. It will be able to tell you when you are feeling run down and are on the verge of a cold or getting sick before you can tell yourself because it will be in tune with how your body works. The ideas I saw on NYT labs helped me come up with this because I took some simple ideas and put them together with technology that already exists.

  12. The strongest idea I saw was the listening table. I really think is the listening table. I really think it’s a neat idea and would love to see this implemented. I love how it says it’s an everyday thing we use (a table) and then if you make “high tech” the common item because that much more valuable.

    I think the weakest idea was the surface reader, which the entire class seems to be on board with this being the weakest. It’s no different than a kindle and in fact I think it’s too over the top. It does a lot, but I believe in something doing too much. It’s a bit too cluttered and compared to a kindle to tablet, it doesn’t hold up.

    The listening table is inspired my idea. I think an app that can transcribe interviews would be ideal for journalist. For most we already use our phones to record things, if there was a way we could avoid transcribing, so much time would be saved. If I’m correct, the table is capable of this and if we could have an app do this, our job becomes quicker and easier.

  13. Renata Di Gregorio says:

    I think the strongest ideas are the Listening Table and Julia, which both used a bit of the same concept. Their ideas are strong because they are built around things that people already do and use technology to facilitate and improve them. They each digitize aspects of a conference and cooking by making them recordable and therefore sharable. For the Listening Table it makes the review of each meeting much easier. For Julia, it also makes the process easier when it shows on the cooking table each ingredient needed.

    I also like the idea because my first idea was going to be something based around cooking since I’m terrible at it. What I don’t like about it is the idea of having to talk to it all the time and having to sit through an entire video just to find out how to wash a vegetable. I am also confused about its durability when cleaning (and cutting on?) it. Also, it probably has a feature that makes fun of you when you burn something in the kitchen.

    I also liked the Mirror, but I do not think its idea was as strong because all of the things it does can already be done on other devices. It just seems like another device that does the same things as a smartphone (although the weight part is pretty neat). (Also seeing something that was on an episode of Black Mirror in real life is also exciting…Or maybe disturbing.)
    I think the weakest idea is the Surface Reader because it is not a new concept. There are already plenty of platforms to read the New York Times- or anything- on and this just seems to have flashier new features and be bigger. While it is a nice tool, it seems like overkill on an idea that has already been in existence for a while.

    From these NYT Labs I’m going to take away the concept that anything is now possible. I’m going to use this concept to influence my idea and see ways that it could actually be accomplished.

  14. After reading through the different ideas I think that the strongest one was Mirror. I like the idea because it takes something that we look at every day and helps the user prepare for the day ahead. While making sure that your outfit for the day matches and that you are clean and ready to go to work you can also read the headlines for the day which may end up helping you in the long run. The fact that Mirror allows you send messages to other users is also an interesting feature. I also like that it learns about you and can help you keep track of your routines.

    The weakest idea was the Surface Reader. To me it appears to be a super-sized IPad. Having a full table top to read the news just doesn’t seem necessary.

    I took from Mirror the idea of personalization and learning the users habits to help make the day easier. My innovation project helps on personalizing news for people who are traveling and helping them find local news that could effect their trip.

  15. abdulazizq8 says:

    The strongest idea for me is the Listening Table. I was impressed when we first saw it in class and I loved it more when I read about it in the site. This idea is helpful for med because I hate to take notes. I cannot concentrate in a conversation and take notes at the same time. This idea gives me the opportunity to talk, highlight important topics and review the conversation later. Also, it takes notes for you, which makes it very convenient.

    I think that the weakest idea is the Mirror. In reality it is just a big computer with a mirror instead of the screen. Most people do not have the time to talk to the mirror and ask it about the weather, news, etc.. in the morning. I barley look at the mirror before I rush to my classes. Also, a laptop next to your regular mirror would do the same job.

    The listening table inspired me to come up with my ideas, which is, the Multi-Language Listening Table. This table would instantly show the translation of conversations in the screen. This would be helpful for businessmen/women, journalists, and even normal people who want to have a conversation. When someone talks on the table, the other person can directly read the translation without needing someone to translate.

  16. Alex Tomes says:

    My favorite one and I think one of the strongest would have to be the Listening Table. First off the biggest place anyone socializes is at studying or just talking. I think with this its a great way to come up with ideas. It is very user friendly in that you can highlight parts of the conversation that you liked. I also think that its great when it comes to still giving people their privacy, since you can turn it off at any time I think that makes it the perfect table for whatever you need when it comes to social aspects of life and also school.

    The weakest one to me was the Surface Reader. I think it isn’t that great, its like a huge computer to me. I think its to big, I don’t want to have to be standing at this big thing to read some articles that I could do on my phone. I also didn’t like the sharing aspect, I mean with how big it was I don’t see how two people can read articles together. I just think that its to big to ever be something that people will want.

    For mine with me making a Coaster that projects the New York Times website. I think that the Mirror would be something that could help me out in some regards. First off I could make it so you could just talk to the Coaster instead of having to scroll through the website and everything. I also think using it to be more of a Weather, Calendar and other aspects of life. It may be too much for what I am making but I think the Mirror invention is something that I can use and take away aspects to make my invention even better.

  17. cposey32014 says:

    I think the strongest idea was the listening table because it could really be something I think would be useful for a lot of companies as well as people away from their jobs. I think the strongest point of it was that you can put a marker on specific things you want to remember which would make it really easy to take notes at a work meeting.
    I think the weakest idea was the Mirror because it seemed a little all over the place to me. It would be difficult to make this a reality because I just see a lot of bugs not working with it. It seems like everything included is all something we keep in our iPhone or a planner too.
    They inspired my innovation which is the Phone and More by being something that could really make life a little easier and a little more enjoyable. My product will be especially helpful for journalist, but also anyone who would want to buy and use it would be able to.

  18. mmarsh6 says:

    Out of all these projects I thought the listening table was the strongest concept. It can be utilized in many different ways in a workplace setting with little effort. When you want it to start recording a conversation all you do it tap a button on the side of the table. For meetings or any types of important workplace conversations, the smart table can be utilized in a later time to see the highlights of the meeting and refresh yourself with info that you might have missed the first time around.

    I did not think the mirror concept was too strong. The idea of an augmented reality mirror is an interesting prototype, but the having voice commands seems like technology that not many people like to use and the other features are things that you can access from a computer. But who knows, maybe this idea will catch on in the future.

    I was having a difficult time thinking of an idea for the project, but after looking through all these examples it definitely helped give me a starting point. A theme behind these ideas that incorporated into my idea called the Time Hub, which are hubs placed around parts of the a city where you can stream localized versions of newspapers by holding a “reader” up to the hub station, is overall things that can make daily life more efficient. A lot of these focused on innovations in the home or workplace, but Time Hubs can be easily accessed on a commute to work and replace the outdated process picking up a hard copy of a newspaper in a store.

  19. Logan Barry says:

    After reviewing all of the projects on NYT Labs, I concluded that the Listening Table was the strongest idea. This is because it can be used in so many different situations. Business meetings, interviews, project brainstorming sessions,etc. Having a table that is recording everything that is being said seems like a great idea when you working with multiple people. Yes you could just record what is being said on your iphone, but the Listening Table would make it much easier, because you simply tap your finger to mark certain parts of the conversation that you deem is important. I also really liked that you could hook your iphone up to it, so that you can take that information away after the meeting concluded for your own personal records. I think it would just make conducting any type of conversation that is deemed “important” much easier, and allow you to capture that information for later use. Whereas if you were using a recorder, you would have to listen to it over and over again to find the information that you thought was important.

    I thought the weakest concept was the Mirror. Sure it’s definitely a cool idea, and I’m not saying I would oppose having one. But if this were to become a reality, I would think it would be quite expensive. So why would I want to go purchase a mirror that I can only use in certain situations (such as your house), when I can just use my smart phone for the same purposes, and at the same time, take it anywhere I want. When I think of this, it just makes think of a larger ipad (one that isn’t portable, or mobile). I don’t think people would waste their money on something that has the same functions that smart phones already have, especially if you can only use it in one setting. When I wake up in the morning, I would just as rather look at my smart phone or turn on the television to find the day’s forecast rather than asking my mirror. Also, going off of what previous posts have mentioned, the talking feature is something that not everyone is comfortable with, and I think people would rather just look up information on their smart phones or computer rather than talking to their mirror everyday.

    The Listening table inspired my idea. Although I have made it so that it would be used solely for court-related purposes. In any kind of class-action law suit or high-profile criminal case, court hearings and sessions can last a very long time, often requiring both parties, the judge, and the court reporter to take excessive notes. If you had a table such as this one, you could record everything being said, and mark important information that you could use in later court sessions. It would allow your to mark that important information without having to deviate your attention away from other important information that is continuing to being said just so you can write down notes. The “marked” information could then be loaded into a library by importance, and would be easily accessible if that information needed to brought up again, rather than having to flip through pages of disorganized and maybe poorly-written notes. Also, it would completely diminish the need for a court reporter to transcribe everything being said, as someone mentioned in a previous post. I think this innovation would make trials more efficient, and make them not last as long.

  20. I felt that the Lazarus project was really interesting, I thought the ability to take old pictures and update them digitally as a “digital citizen”. The way that the NYITlabs appreciates the content is really admirable, because someone worked hard to develope those high resolution photos. I also think there is application for this software for other things.

    I thought the interactive table wasn’t really that meaningful. To me, it seems as if it just moves the electronics into a visually appealing format. I don’t necessarily know that this has serious application elsewhere, and it seems to be just a cleaner way to house electronics and have collaborative meetings between devices, which already exists to some extent.
    I think that I used more of the overarching concepts in my idea rather than actual individual inventions. I think that presenting information in different and unique ways is the key to adapting to this new environment of digital storytelling.

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