Consumers that design the products they want to buy

Usually we see consumers as passive buyers, reacting to advertising, and choosing from the available products in the market and we expect producers to make statistics of their sales in order to understand what people wants to buy.

Now, by using web tools, it would be quite easy to create communities of consumers that work together designing the products they would like to buy. These communities could for instance imagine possible new features to a HiFi set, or modify the design of a sport shoe. Then, these features and products could been voted by everyone, so the fittest could be potential new products that can be materialized by manufacturers interested in it. Consumers would obtain products more adapted to their needs and producers would have new products that are supported by many potential buyers. If a consumer is involved in the development of a product, surely he would like to buy it and promote it.

The idea is simple, yet powerful, since it opens a new communication channel between consumers and producers.

Smarter goods

Most cities have patterns of transport where daytime commuting and business peaks are interchanged with nighttime goods transport.  Although we are most aware of daytime congestion and pollution through transport, we should not forget that transport at night also contributes to these problems -albeit on a lesser scale.

What is needed is environmentally sound means of transport offering cheap, coordinated transport to all major goods firms and stores.  A smarter city would have either a municipal goods transport system, or a ‘transport exchange’, where goods suppliers bid for routes and cooperate with each other in order to avoid high road-pricing tariffs.

Receipt and dispatch notifications would be sent and processed in real time between automated warehouses, goods depots, city docks and railheads. Smart choreography would ensure a minimum of congestion, a minimum of inefficiency and minimum pollution.

Challenges for this model would be -like so many others- interoperability of systems (RFID, barcode standards, CCDs, etc.) In some ways we would also need to build on the existing EDI (end-to-end) methods to inter-operate with city systems.