Avatar-based Innovation: Using Virtual Worlds for Real-World Innovation

In the first stage, this paper took four companies which include Coca-Cola, Steelcase, Osram and Alcatel-Lucent as example. In Coca-Cola, users proposed some idea for a portable virtual vending machine by using the Second Life platform. The design team should produce some inventive ideas for the generation of Coke machine. In Steelcase, the company invited Second Life builders to design an innovative new executive chair. The winner who incorporates their ideas into actual models presents their model to the company’s design staff. In Osram , participants are invited to design their ideas about lighting. They are encouraged to unleash their creativity and join the company on an exploration of the future of new product ideas or related applications.

In concept and design stage, the selected ideas during the previous stage are developed into concepts. Especially, the Internet allows customers to self-configure and self-design products, bringing customers directly into the design and development process. In Toyota Scion, users can choose from different colors and select their preferred type of rims. In Endemol, the task is to develop 3D furniture that could serve as inspiration for real-life designs. The building area provides participants with free samples, objects, and textures so that inexperienced builders do not have to build the furniture from scratch.

In the final stage, the new product concept is converted into a new product or service. Empirical studies have shown that online prototype testing is as effective as more traditional offline physical prototype testing, because online methods can be conducted faster with less cost. In the case of Aloft, before the building process starts in the physical world, the company built a mock-up of their new concept in Second Life. This case showed that virtual worlds allow innovating companies to test new product concepts quickly, inexpensively and confidentially.

5. Contribution :

This paper took eight cases to promote the viewpoint that avatar-based innovation which used virtual worlds for real-world innovation in order to interact with customer can improve the new product development process.

This paper only considered the three stages of product development process. It would be more comprehensive to consider the recycle stage in the end of product development process. Moreover, this paper analyzed the benefit of virtual word in the product development process. Further research would integrate the service into the product development process. After reviewing this paper, we can know the importance and benefit of the virtual worlds. It could add to the issue of value co-creation in my literature review.