Vernetzte Notepad-Methode

Development of a connected notepad method for the generation of ideas and innovations

The shorter route to innovation: at Nuremberg Institute of Technology, we combine software and creative technologies

Development tasks in businesses are becoming increasingly complex and need to be completed in ever smaller time scales, often with partners in a variety of countries. Logic, intelligence, money, or routine alone will not improve the situation – the creative process needs to be supported in other ways. In June, Professors Michael Koch and Rüdiger Hornfeck of Nuremberg Institute of Technology began a cooperative research project in which the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Building Services Engineering is to test a new type of connected creative work. The STAEDTLER Stiftung is convinced that the idea will be a success, and is funding the project with EUR 39,700.

“Most ideas develop during our free time rather than during working hours,” is how Prof. Michael Koch defines the problem. “If they are not recorded, they are soon lost again. The ability to bounce ideas off one another is very important for the development process.” For him, the solution lies in a combination of creative techniques
and networking; however, developers generally work in parallel, and creativity techniques are only employed sporadically.

Sharing across borders
With the “connected notepad method”, they can continue to work on their ideas together at different times and in different locations. For the communication devices, the Nuremberg Tech professors rely on hardware platforms commonly available on the market. The end-user devices and software are adapted to the development process. Prof. Michael Koch and his colleague Prof. Rüdiger Hornfeck regard the iPad and smartphones as particularly promising devices, because the market for them develops very dynamically. However, it is also possible to work with laptops, tablet computers, or digital pens. What the two professors find especially appealing about the method is the application of the software in brainstorming processes. It avoids the weaknesses of previous creativity methods.

Students are the first to test
As soon as the hardware and software have been adapted, a number of test devices will be distributed to students. “The idea is to test out the devices in a project as part of the engineering design course and provide students with a specific assignment,” explains Prof. Koch. “One group will spend a semester working with the connected notepad method, while the other will use pen and paper. We will see which group is more productive.”

It will then be possible to implement the findings from the research project directly in industry, since the standard devices can be introduced quickly and cheaply. For the practical test, the professors from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Building Services Engineering are still seeking an industry cooperation partner. Eligible companies are those that operate in the engineering design sector. Staedtler has already registered its interest, as it has developed a pen that is able to write digitally.

The breakthrough idea is arrived at sooner
Professors Koch and Hornfeck believe that the test subjects, and later the developers, will not only have more ideas, but also arrive at the breakthrough idea more quickly by sharing content with one another. They expect the method to provide considerable added value, while formal brainstorming meetings become a thing of the past.
Prof. Michael Koch has been at Nuremberg Tech since 2009 and teaches in the fields of engineering design, machine elements, and CAD. His colleague, Prof. Rüdiger Hornfeck, teaches in engineering design, CAD, and integrated product development, among others, and is also the head of the university’s 3D Visualization Center. The project funds will be used to appoint someone at the center who will be closely involved with the “connected notepad method”.

STAEDTLER Foundation: partner in the sciences
The non-profit STAEDTLER Stiftung has been supporting Nuremberg Tech, the research leader amongst Bavaria’s universities of applied sciences, for many years now. It also awards substantial prizes every year to doctoral candidates for outstanding achievement. The STAEDTLER Stiftung has already funded numerous projects at Nuremberg Tech, and over the past ten years it has contributed over one million euros in funding. These were just a few of the projects that benefited from the funding:
The university’s Institute for Energy and Building was able to use the funds to carry out research into latent heat storage materials, the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Building Services Engineering focused on improving the efficiency of cooling, the Faculty of Computer Science progressed with the “Intelligent Construction Site” project, and at the Faculty of Applied Chemistry, Prof. Ralf Lösel and his team worked on the treatment of Type 1 allergies (immediate hypersensitivity).