In recent years, General Electric (NYSE:GE) has expanded into what is known as the Internet of Things, which is where many different devices connect to the internet. Now though, GE is looking to involve consumers by crowd-sourcing to discover uses for the technology it has developed.
Recently, GE announced that it was partnering with Quirky, which is a start up that acts as a kind of social network for inventors to help them turn ideas into marketable items as well as assisting in the manufacture and distribution of these items to stores like Best Buy and Target.
GE is working with the Quirky community to grant them hundreds and patents and helping them identify promising consumer uses for these patents. GE is expected to increase the number of patents offered to thousands in the coming months.
The deal allows GE to share in the profits from these products. Thus, GE will be able to earn revenue from some of their intellectual property, such as cooling techniques for LED lighting systems, without having to figure out how the consumers would actually want them to be used…
This benefits the inventors who use Quirky because they will have access to a library of technology that GE developed for other uses. Ben Kaufman, the founder of Quirky sees this as a way to allow companies like GE to explore new uses of their technology without a lot of risk. Thus, GE earns profits without having to invest a lot.
Quirky gets about a thousand ideas a week for new profits, and about two or three of those are turned into actual products. Other inventors can chime in on ideas and give suggestions and feedback, but the final decision about making a product is left up to the staff of Quirky. After a product is finished, Quirky shares the profits with those who helped make it happen. Some of the products they have made include a curve shaped power strip and a rubber band with a hook attached.
Providing its patents will make GE a member of the Quirky community and allow them to partake in the proceeds. Both companies declined to comment on how big a cut of the revenue GE would be taking, but GE did say they plan this to be a profitable venture.
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