K-Mart, Apple, and CUICAR…the cultural shift in influence. Tomorrow’s Innovation.

Sarah and I were sitting around tonight watching a little Friday night television and a K-Mart commercial caught my attention. I am not sure why, maybe it was the music that made me cue into the message. The song sounded familiar, but I was not interested in the song…I was interested in the clothes the kids were wearing.

This was a back to school message, showing off all the new cool kids clothes. Those back-to-school fashions that grab the dollars right out of the pockets’ of moms and dads. I was thinking back to when I was in middle school and even high school. What clothes were in fashion. I remember in 6th grade, all the girls were wearing “Jellies”. Do you remember those “flats” that girls were wearing. How about break dancing pants, the ones with all the zippers. Yes, I am remembering those 80’s influenced by pop culture icons like Michael Jackson.

But where did those fashions originate. How did they end up in our closets. How did they trickle down into little South Carolina, influencing kids interests which influenced moms and dads to make that purchase. Did those fashions come from Europe where fashion is truly influential in international hearts and minds? Was there one designer that create that one design, ultimately creating a cultural fad in all the American schools, making it the cool thing to wear?

Think about Apple and the cultural shift this technology and design animal has created with an iPhone. The idea of making a touch screen cool and desirable. Not only making this concept the technological break through in American culture, but making it the most desirable brand item…creating so much demand people line outside of stores days before the release. What one person came up with this idea which influenced technological pop-culture. We could list company after company, one after another that have influenced the way we purchase items.

I sat in a fascinating forum this morning, listening to some of the most renowned automotive thinkers. The InnoMobility Forum at CUICAR. As I was listening to a presentation over WebX, a gentleman from Munich, Germany was talking about building innovative communities of automotive creation. People from BMW and numerous automotive suppliers were sitting in a room listening through this presenters German accent, fascinated with his thoughts as he flipped through slide after slide.

The next presenter was talking about bearings inside transmissions. Now this does not sound exciting, except when you think about all the new battery powered cars on the road now. They no longer have engines that create exhaust, ultimately noise. If you remove this noise by removing the internal combustion exhaust system…you begin to hear all the little clicks, ticks, and tocks. Those metal parts rubbing against each other that create friction and noise. Now, engineers are having to make metal to metal quieter.

At the end of the presentation, a question was asked that surrounded the cultural shift in way we will one day use transportation. The presenter explained that we will be shifting back to the way we built transportation in those early days of the automotive industry. He began to explain we will not just see just electric cars or just hybrids…we will see a host of solutions based on geography. Electric cars in the city, since it is easier to provide charging stations, hybrids for metro to suburbia, and internal combustion engines for rural areas where gasoline makes the most sense, except in a more fuel efficient manner.

He went on to describe the shift in the cultural circle from those early days. The days when the first automakers were creating gasoline engines, steam engines, and even battery powered vehicles. The presenter noted this cultural circle as a shift in the way the automotive industry is now creating transportation, influenced by industries including the airline industry.

So I get back to that K-Mart commercial…how are we influenced to make purchasing decisions. Where does culture begin that influences the designers, engineers, developers, suppliers, marketers, and ultimately those consumers who choose to shift the way they purchase their next vehicle. Where will it originate? Will it begin in Europe…I think many hope that it might begin from the innovation right inside the doors of CUICAR.

Check out InnoMobility this coming October.