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A Law of Functional Expansion - Eliciting the Dynamics of Consumer Goods Innovation with Design Theory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2019


Abstract

For more than two decades, mobile phone industry has shown that innovation is not only functional optimization and combination but can also be a "functional expansion”. Sometimes called radical or disruptive innovation, this phenomenon leads to the development of new method for engineers and designers. However, the intensity remains undemonstrated: is functional expansion a rare phenomenon (few products during very short periods of time) – or is it an intense phenomenon, that even might have accelerated in the last decades? To answer these questions, the paper overcomes two main obstacles: how to measure functional expansion? And what would be a law of functional expansion, that would enable to test the importance and newness of the phenomena? Building on recent advances on the measurement of innovation and on new computational models of design derived from most advanced design theories, this paper presents unique data on functional expansion of 8 consumer products and tests that functional expansion significantly accelerated in the mid 1990s. The paper confirms quantitatively that our societies are now in a new design regime, a regime of innovative design.


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Article
Creative Commons
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2019

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