Gadgets over Glitz

June 25th, 2004

Posted by: admin

A recent UK poll indicates that the British public covets practicality in its technological innovations (as reported by the BBC News and the Guardian). When asked to rank their top 10 innovations, 2000 British citizens opted for gadgets over glitz. The smoke alarm came in first place, followed closely by the microwave oven, air bags, and long-life light bulbs. These results back the assertion expressed in the report that “technology is no longer the main driver of product innovation… user requirements are now leading”

According to David Harrison, head of design at Brunel University and the lead author of the survey, “these choices demonstrate that people in the UK are more interested in practical, everyday innovation than revolutionary dreams.”

While not entirely surprising, these results have noteworthy science policy implications as they play into research funding debates of basic versus applied science. The study raises the question – if the public primarily values utility, should technological research funding reflect that? And if so, will this require a shift in current funding patterns or will it simply promote business as usual?

And out of curiosity, what would the poll results have been stateside?

Read the rest of the report. Download file

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