PARC Innovations Update (2009 #6)

This is the archive entry for our e-mail newsletter, PARC Innovations Update. [subscribe]

  • From paper to digital… Creating a new business opportunity and technology platform [large publishing company]
  • The way we search online… Translating a vision into a marketplace reality [venture acquired by Microsoft]
  • Safe water… Turning a novel laboratory concept into a field-ready prototype [government agency]
  • Affordable solar electricity… Accelerating time to market and increasing cost efficiency [startup incubated on site]
  • Better customer service… Transforming employee learning and customer service practices [Fortune 500 company]

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From paper to digital…Creating a new business opportunity and technology platform

Global publishing company DNP has a long history of delivering information on paper and other materials, yet wants to capitalize on the emerging trend of delivering information in digital formats. PARC ethnographers and technologists worked closely with DNP R&D groups to brainstorm, filter, develop, field-test, and prototype a context-aware mobile platform that recommends information and content about local leisure activities — matched to the user’s location, time of day, and personal tastes…

The way we search online…Translating a vision into a marketplace reality

The founders of startup Powerset, Inc., were convinced that there had to be a better way to search the web instead of inputting isolated keywords and hunting through a list of results to find relevant information. PARC’s natural language technology patents and research collaboration enabled Powerset (acquired by Microsoft) to develop and deploy a breakthrough consumer search engine within just 24 months…

Safe water…Turning a novel laboratory concept into a field-ready prototype

The ability to detect bioagents in fluids was achieved by the U.S. Army in the lab, but the ability to do so using dispersed water samples in the field involved greater challenges. To address the gap between existing detection technology and required water safety standards, PARC designed, fabricated, assembled, tested, and delivered fully functional, portable, low-power bioagent concentrator device units within an accelerated timeframe…

Affordable solar electricity…Accelerating time to market and increasing cost-efficiency

Realizing that solar electricity would be widely adopted if it were cost-competitive with fossil fuel-derived electricity, the entrepreneurs behind SolFocus, Inc. had developed a promising concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) approach. PARC proposed an improved, smaller CPV design that would be simpler to manufacture and able to convert significantly more sunlight into electricity — essential features for lowering system cost and enhancing appeal. SolFocus subsequently “set up shop” in PARC’s facility, where they expanded their operations and funding before moving to new headquarters…

Better customer service…Transforming employee learning and customer service practices

To better serve customers, reduce training costs, and increase revenue, a Fortune 500 company decided to consolidate its fragmented call-center operations and provide a single face to their customers. PARC ethnographers — experienced from immersing themselves in a variety of organizational workscapes — worked closely with the company’s corporate training department and employees to co-design a more streamlined and effective knowledge worker learning program that saved millions of dollars in training costs…


 Editor: Sonal Chokshi

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