Crowdsourced Product Development and Design

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Starbucks-sponsored Betacup


"That something needs to be done about the ubiquitous but wasteful paper coffee cup seems to be a matter of fairly widespread agreement. We’ve seen the development of myriad reusable replacements and—more recently—reusable lids, but now a new effort is tapping the crowds for further ideas.

With sponsorship from none other than Starbucks itself, the mission driving the Betacup project is to find the best ideas to eliminate paper cup consumption and then help bring these ideas to life. It’s not just another reusable cup design that’s being sought, however—rather, “think beyond just the vessel for carrying coffee, and develop a way to cause behavior change at a massive scale,” the effort’s creators urge. Toward that end, Betacup launched an international contest on April 1 by which creative thinkers all over the world can submit and rate new ideas for a sustainable and convenient alternative. Submissions can be made in the form of image, audio or video files, as long as they’re posted on the Jovoto-based collaborative platform by June 1. Participants can also collect karma for ratings and comments during the rating period, which extends through June 15. Entries will be judged on a variety of qualities, including how they reduce waste, what resources they require, new or existing capabilities required for implementation, and the overall user experience. A total of USD 20,000 in prizes will be awarded to the developers of the winning ideas, including USD 10,000 for the top choice of Betacup’s board of advisors; the remainder will be split evenly among the top 5 community favourites." (

Volkswagen App My Ride


'Volkswagen just launched a new contest — dubbed App My Ride—to invite designers, programmers, developers and interested users to help develop applications for its future in-car infotainment systems.

Volkswagen has already begun developing a prototype for its new system—involving, specifically, a touch-screen integrated in a vehicle’s center console—and it hopes to research as many potential apps as possible. Toward that end, it has launched an innovation community through which consumers can contribute their own apps and ideas. To develop an app, participants must have not just an idea but also a graphic design of the user interface and the ability to program in Adobe Flash or Flex. They can then submit their compiled app as a SWF file; in fact, the contest’s software development kit even includes an AppPlayer for testing those applications. Those without full-fledged apps, meanwhile, are welcome to submit their ideas for consideration as well. Participants can submit as many apps and ideas as they want by the contest’s June 30 deadline. In August, the most innovative application will be chosen by the App My Ride community and a jury consisting of Volkswagen managers and external experts. The first-place winner will receive EUR 3,000 as well as a trip to take part in an international vehicle presentation, including flight and hotel. Second- and third-prize winners will receive EUR 2,000 and EUR 1,000, respectively. Other prizes for apps, ideas and participation will include non-cash awards such as a Volkswagen car for a weekend; a special prize for students, meanwhile, involves a 6-month internship within Volkswagen Group Research.

By launching this contest, Volkswagen is the first car manufacturer to crowdsource product development" (

External, Platforms



' RedesignMe is a Dutch site that is putting crowdsourcing to work to refine and revise product designs of mass-produced consumer goods.

Consumers frustrated by mobile phones, coffee machines, or products of virtually any type can submit a photo or video of the product along with a description of what they think needs redesigning. One user, for example, complains about excessively sensitive buttons on his cell phone that frequently get pressed by accident; another describes an alarm clock that won’t go off. Other users on the site can then submit suggestions for redesigning the product in question, with the option of using an online design tool to annotate pictures with post-it notes, text balloons and arrows. Users can rate each other’s submissions and add comments, and prizes are awarded each month.

After a beta period beginning in late July, RedesignMe just officially launched a few weeks ago, with the goal of “promoting simplicity in product design” and giving “a signal to the industry.” About 60 problem products have been submitted so far, and more than 30 have been redesigned. The site’s developers are now looking for design schools, investors and entrepreneurs to partner with.

RedesignMe’s site could use some refinement itself—navigation can be tricky—and it’s not yet entirely clear how ideas generated there will translate into actual products on the market. But if the site continues to gain traction, smart consumer products companies and inventors will start paying attention, and maybe even start sponsoring it. After all, who needs expensive market research when consumers are right there, showing you what they want? And the obvious opportunity for entrepreneurs in other parts of the world is to set up their own versions of RedesignMe, focusing on products (and services!) sold locally." (