Most folks don’t realize that the first hybrid car was not the Toyota Prius. In fact, the first hybrid was introduced to the world at the turn of the century …
The 20th century.
In 1900, Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche revealed the Lohner-Porsche Elektromobil, which featured Porsche’s electric wheel-hub motor (a battery-operated motor that fit inside the hub of a wheel).
Porsche invented his electric motor to combat the foul-smelling pollution caused by internal combustion engines. And while the Elektromobil was initially 100% electric, it soon became the world’s first hybrid car. By reinventing his car as a hybrid (that featured an internal combustion engine that ran a generator), Porsche was able to address the problem of keeping his Elektromobil’s batteries charged.
This combination of two different elements (electric and internal combustion engines) is the very definition of the term hybrid.
We as humans seem drawn to hybrids – mixing and matching two completely different things to come away with something new, exciting, and better:
Of course, these days, the term hybrid is almost synonymous with the gas/electric car. However, there are still plenty of examples of other hybrid inventions that are making their mark on society.
The technology space is all about hybrid innovations. But the Microsoft Surface took things to a whole new level. Back in 2012, when it first came out, consumers could already own a tablet, a laptop, a computer, and a smartphone. But the Surface merged both laptop and tablet into one, making it possible for folks to carry their computer with them far more conveniently than ever before.
These days, VCRs and DVD players are completely unneeded; however, when the TV/VCR combo first hit the shelves in the 1970s, consumerism was forever changed. Folks lined up to buy these gadgets, rather than have to buy and setup two different devices.
However, the TV/VCR combo did suffer one common hybrid faux pas: consumers began to realize that if their VCR failed and had to be repaired, they’d lose their TV in the process.
The Canon 5D was not the first DSLR camera to capture both photo and video. However, it was the first camera to capture video at a level that neared professional grade. For less than $2,000, consumers could capture a similar quality of video to that of professional video cameras that cost upwards of $10,000 and beyond.
This hybrid innovation is a perfect example of consumers’ willingness to compromise for cost and convenience. The Canon 5D has drawbacks when shooting video (ergonomics, limited video capture time); however, the conveniences and cost-friendly price tag more than make up for these shortcomings.
First, picture a stick of butter. Then, picture a glue stick. See where we’re headed here? The Butter Stick makes it possible for folks to carry their stick of butter with them, in a tube that’s essentially an exact replica of a glue stick – minus the glue.
The most effective use of the Butter Stick is when you need to butter your corn or bread for grilled cheese sandwiches. This isn’t a ground-breaking invention, but it demonstrates just how simple it can be to combine two unrelated things into one super-cool idea.
Most innovators are inspired by existing ideas and inventions. They merely add their own perspective to create something new or different.
Next time you’re looking to come up with your next big idea, why not look at the world around you. Ask yourself, what two completely unrelated things, when combined, could actually solve a problem?
You might be surprised with what you come away with.