Innovation is the implementation of a new idea, concept or invention. The implementation can come from proof of concept in a laboratory, a diagram in a patent filing, a pilot project, or a commercial product or application. Innovations are emerging every day. They can be incremental and gradual, or radical and disruptive. They can involve processes or products, as well as new business models and market strategies.
A radical innovation is an emerging technology that improves on existing technologies, enables new applications, and changes behaviors and patterns of consumption. Radical innovations can come from small entrepreneurial startups, university science projects, government initiatives and corporate R&D. Many large corporations have developed "cultures of innovation" and "innovation ecosystems" that provide a continual flow of emerging technologies and applications (GE, Google, IBM, Intel, and Procter and Gamble are a few examples). Radical innovations are riskier, more expensive and take longer to develop than incremental innovations - but they provide a source of long term growth that is essential for large corporations and also create unique opportunities for entrepreneurs who have the passion and commitment to stay the course.
Most radical innovations can be found in specialized or high priced niches such as university labs, defense-aerospace or government projects before they reach the mass market. By learning to scan for these innovations as they emerge, you can 'read the future' - and anticipate many of the exciting breakthroughs that will transform industries and markets.
A Glimpse of the Future: Included below are some radical innovations that I've come across in my research for writing, speaking and teaching projects. Many of the business and technology leaders who are leading these initiatives are friends and colleagues. Several have provided interviews for my book-in-progress on nanoinnovation, or presented at the annual Emerging Technologies Update Day I host at Wharton. It is not difficult to see the future, if you teach yourself how to read the signals. In these very brief snapshots below I've included the innovation, one or two images, and links to the company, news and videos. I call this a "glimpse of the future" because all of these innovations are still evolving and emerging.