Bringing new products to life
ASSA ABLOY Shared Technologies develop platform technologies to be integrated in ASSA ABLOY group company products. Thinking outside the box is encouraged at Shared Technologies where developing innovative solutions for sustainable energy, wireless connectivity, software and identification are part of the daily routine. The Future Lab visited the R&D team during the “Innovation Day” where employees have 24 hours to brainstorm and come up with creative ideas for new products or improvements to existing ones.
ASSA ABLOY is continuously developing new products and improving existing ones in terms of benefits, costs and quality.
This global leader in door opening solutions believes that innovation is the most important driver for growth and since 2005 investments in R&D have more than doubled.
Technological developments within consumer electronics and security are opening up new opportunities, says Lars Elsmark, director Pre Product Innovation & IPR, Shared Technologies ASSA ABLOY, adding:
“As the company transitions from mechanical products to developing more and more electronic solutions and software, we have been able to shift our investments from traditional production to development.”
Electronics, firmware, software and mechatronics
Much of this R&D takes place within the Shared Technologies division. Shared Technologies develops technology platforms and products at four Innovation Centers around the world. The focus is on constantly improving knowledge and skills in areas such as electronics, firmware, software and mechatronics. The organization also engages in market research, voice of the customer methodology and competitor analyses and follows technology trends in order to develop products with added value.
Some of the door opening solutions developed by Shared Technologies are Aperio for wireless connectivity with real-time access control, Hi-O door technology that makes it possible for all devices to talk to each other, and CLIQ, a cost-efficient way for users to expand or replace all parts of their existing master key system with a more flexible and secure electromechanical solution.
The innovation process
To ensure that every phase of innovation gets the necessary attention, the innovation process has been divided into three areas:
- Pre Product Innovation (PPI)
- New Product Innovation (NPI)
- Continuous Product Innovation (CPI)
NPI and CPI comprise the processes required to carry out a product and continue to improve it.
In the PPI stage, focus is mainly on four areas: Sustainable Energy Solutions, Wireless Connectivity (including Bluetooth and GPS), Software and Identification. “We’re heading for the Cloud,” says Mikael Lindberg, manager software systems, product innovation Shared Technologies. “We use the Cloud for all cutting edge technology. It’s a good way for groups and devices to communicate,” he says.
The Internet of Things, energy harvesting, wearable technology, home automation and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), are just some of the exciting areas that the product innovation teams are working with.
24 hours of innovation
Among the activities within the PPI organization is the biannual “Innovation Day” where employees have 24 hours to brainstorm and come up with creative ideas for new products or improvements to existing ones.
More than 25 ideas were presented at the latest Innovation Day in January, including a lock status detector, a wristband that controls home devices and an e-paper display that reduces power consumption and provides a better user experience.
Either you need to go deep into a problem to find innovative ideas or you have to think in broader terms and be inspired by others.
“In general when working with innovations you need to address different strategies – either you need to go deep into a problem to find innovative ideas or you have to think in broader terms and be inspired by others,” says Elsmark. “Innovation Day does just that.”
Innovation Day has lead to new functionalities and technologies as well as to developing new processes. “It’s also resulted in a number of new patents that can be a part of ASSA ABLOY in the future,” says Lindberg, citing a keyless entry project as just one example of an innovation that was sparked by Innovation Day.
But don’t expect any more details here. Some of the innovations have been so good that they remain a top secret until patents are completed.
By: Cari Simmons