December 3, 2013

Research and development has long been an expensive element of the auto industry. For decades devising even the smallest addition to an engine could cost millions of dollars and take as long as eight months to accomplish. But thanks to advances in technology over the last five years, engineers can now test dozens of designs within a virtual environment. As a result, automakers are at last seeking affordable innovations in fuel efficiency and overall vehicle performance.

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December 1, 2013

Although many people can think of a great business idea, not everybody has the time or money to see their product come into fruition. That is unless they’re lucky enough to have their idea produced by crowd-sourcing manufacturer Quirky. The New York-based company has built a $50 million business by turning user-submitted blueprints into marketable goods.

Each week Quirky receives more than 2,000 invention ideas from its community of approximately 500,000 members. Staffers then select the best ideas of the Continue reading

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November 30, 2013

 

People today are becoming less and less dependent on cash, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at most vending machines. More than 40 percent of American adults said in a recent survey that they could go a week without paying for something in cash. Meanwhile, many of the nation’s vending machines continue to accept only bills and coins. This reluctance to change likely led to the vending industry’s 18.3 percent drop in sales between 2007 and 2011. When Continue reading

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November 24, 2013

Coming up with innovative products and services is no simple task for companies to accomplish. After all, most new item that businesses roll out takes years of research and development, a costly investment that’s not guaranteed to succeed. In order to avoid R&D burnout, many companies have held competitions in the hopes of finding a great idea from outside the organization. And according to a new MIT study, this might just be the most efficient way for companies to innovate. Continue reading

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November 19, 2013

 

For many image-conscious consumers, product customization provides a way to stand out from the crowd without searching high and low for something totally unique. At Big Shot Bikes, for instance, customers can choose the color and shape of up to 10 parts of the Colorado company’s fixed gear bikes. Once customers select their preferences, Big Shot assembles the bicycles and ships them to the buyers for under $500. With such a relatively reasonable price tag, the company wants consumers Continue reading

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November 17, 2013

The information that appears on food packaging is under more scrutiny than ever as many people carefully count their calories and regulators research companies’ health claims. However, there’s one line on nearly every item of food that bamboozles both consumers and producers alike: the “sell by” date. Or should we say the “use by” date? Whatever name it goes by on a particular package of food, misunderstanding of its meaning causes Americans to toss out more than 40 percent of Continue reading

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November 13, 2013

As Americans become more health conscious, food companies have had to come up with increasingly creative ways to keep people snacking. In fact, just last month we featured an article in the newsletter about how smaller packaging can lead people to eat more than they normally would. But for a growing number of consumers, fatty snacks like candy and potato chips are to be avoided no matter how they’re packaged. That’s why a number of niche brands have popped up Continue reading

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October 30, 2013

Though it might not seem like it to the casual snacker, packaging plays a big part in the way we eat. Food companies spend a fortune studying the psychology behind our eating habits in order to discover the most effective pathways into America’s stomachs. Surprisingly, they’ve found out that perhaps the best way to keep customers snacking is through resealable packages rather than individually wrapped ones. For example, research conducted by Hershey showed that individual wrappers on items like candy Continue reading

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October 26, 2013

Velcro Industries is a company in a peculiar situation. On the one hand, if asked to describe Velcro, nearly everyone in America could provide at least some kind of relevant answer. Perhaps they’d talk about the distinctive ripping sound or be reminded of their favorite pair of tennis shoes as a kid. But the fastener these people would describe isn’t exactly Velcro, at least not in the eyes of the company who uses that name. To Velcro Industries, the word Continue reading

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October 23, 2013

Last autumn the Weather Channel officially became the Weather Company, signaling the start of a major rebranding effort. The meteorological media firm didn’t pull the plug on its long-standing TV station, though. Instead, the change reflects the Weather Company’s new position as a data and analytics outfit concerned with all things weather. Over the course of 75 years the Atlanta-based company has amassed huge amounts of atmospheric information concerning dew points and cloud cover percentages. All this data combined with Continue reading

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