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Smart Connected Products Meet Lean Start-up: GE’s Imagination Really is at Work!

While General Electric has been around forever, the company certainly doesn’t rest on its laurels. One of GE’s most impressive new innovations is its FirstBuild Microfactory in Louisville, Kentucky. The idea is to rapidly prototype next-generation home appliances and market test them before scaling up. Using 3D printing and related technologies while offering an incubator of sorts to inventors, entrepreneurs and students, FirstBuild combines the best of ‘Lean Start-Up’ with IoT. The result?  Some winners, some failures – but all pretty darn smart.
 
Even Motley Fool is impressed: General Electric Company may be an industrial giant, but it's always had a gaping hole in its competitive advantage: it has left user-friendly innovation to others. But with the Internet of things upon us, General Electric is reinventing its products in ways few of us have ever thought of... 
The company has partnered up with IFTTT, which is 'a service that allows users to connect Internet services and their devices using a simple statement formation — if this, then that (IFTTT).'  For some perspective, here are a few formulations that General Electric has already created for its users: 
  • If the oven is preheated, then send me a text message
  • If the oven is done cooking, then flash living room lights
  • If I leave the house, then turn off the oven
  • If smoke is detected, then turn off the oven" 
    more >
Still, before these products are launched in any big way, they are prototyped at FirstBuild. The process enables iterative innovation quickly and cost-effectively -- and seems like a smart idea for any manufacturing company.  
 
  
** For further reading: Inside GE’s First Microfactory

** To see FirstBuild's Microfactory in action, sign up for CIMdata’s workshop,The New Age of Collaboration, Innovation, and Product Development on October 7-8, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.  The tour on October 7 is followed by a networking dinner, then on October 8 there's a full day of forward-looking presentations, implementation how-to's/examples, networking, and discussion. Speakers include leaders from FirstBuild, BASF, Local Motors and more.
 
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