On the surface that seems like a silly question. Why would you ever want to create a chef knife out of wood? What could it possibly cut?
But rather than allow doubts and questions derail their creative process, two students out of Germany decided to use them as inspiration – they’ve developed an actual wooden chef knife.
Of course, for any innovation to have a shelf-life, it has to present at least some type of value. So what, exactly, is the value of a wooden chef knife, aside from its novelty?
First and foremost, the //SKID knife is far friendly to the planet. A conventional chef knife produces 2133 grams of carbon dioxide, whereas the //SKID produces just 67. With the same energy it takes to create one steel knife, you can create 32 //SKIDs.
Yes, the //SKID knife does actually cut, because it’s not entirely made of wood. More precisely, 3% of the entire knife is made of high alloyed carbon steel, while the remaining portion is made up of Robinia or Walnut wood.
Here’s where the //SKID really makes its mark. Yes, it’s friendlier to the earth, but from a consumer standpoint, that may not be enough to sway people to change their decades-long habit of using steel.
In order to clean a //SKID knife, you simply wash it under warm water – no other soap or detergent is required.
The inventors of the //SKID, knowing that a bacteria-fighting chef’s knife would turn heads, went a step further and added linseed oil into their design. This linseed oil maintains the knife’s self-cleaning and anti-bacterial properties.
There are many reasons why innovations do – or don’t – disrupt the marketplace. But whenever you can find a way to help people feel a little bit cleaner and safer in their environment, chances are you have a winning idea, like the //SKID.
But that knife isn’t alone.
Last year, Business Insider did a spotlight on a couple of teens from Hong Kong who invented a cheap but effective way to make a door handle that automatically disinfects itself. The door handle is coated with titanium dioxide (a mineral that kills bacteria and is found in paint and sunscreen). But because titanium dioxide is best at killing bacteria under UV light, the teens had to figure out an effective way to light up their door handle prototype.
Here’s how they figured out how to get every inch of their handle to get direct UV rays: they lit it from the inside. The handle itself is made of clear glass, with a strong light-emitting diode (LED) on one end, that shines UV light through the length of the handle. Now lit up with UV light, the titanium dioxide can do its job of killing off bacteria.
Of course, light needs power, so these teens attached a gearbox to the door that converts the motion of the gears (from opening and closing the door) into electrical power.
These innovations demonstrate how simple, everyday products (like a kitchen knife), and even products we never think about (like a door handle) can become the subject of remarkable new discoveries, if we just begin to look at the world a little bit differently, while asking ourselves, what if.