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Design opportunity conception using the total technology space map

  • Jianxi Luo (a1), Binyang Song (a1), Lucienne Blessing (a1) and Kristin Wood (a1)

Traditionally, design opportunities and directions are conceived based on expertise, intuition, or time-consuming user studies and marketing research at the fuzzy front end of the design process. Herein, we propose the use of the total technology space map (TSM) as a visual ideation aid for rapidly conceiving high-level design opportunities. The map is comprised of various technology domains positioned according to knowledge proximity, which is measured based on a large quantity of patent data. It provides a systematic picture of the total technology space to enable stimulated ideation beyond the designer's knowledge. Designers can browse the map and navigate various technologies to conceive new design opportunities that relate different technologies across the space. We demonstrate the process of using TSM as a rapid ideation aid and then analyze its applications in two experiments to show its effectiveness and limitations. Furthermore, we have developed a cloud-based system for computer-aided ideation, that is, InnoGPS, to integrate interactive map browsing for conceiving high-level design opportunities with domain-specific patent retrieval for stimulating concrete technical concepts, and to potentially embed machine-learning and artificial intelligence in the map-aided ideation process.

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Author for correspondence: Jianxi Luo, E-mail:
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