April 6, 2023

Inspiring Ideation: Takeaways from XchangeIdeas 2023

Written by
Hazal Mestci
Developer Advocate

“Have you ever looked around your world and wished something about it was different?” 

“Have you ever found yourself noticing how products could be just a little bit better with one small change?”

If you’ve pondered these questions before, you’re in good company! These are just a few of the thought-provoking prompts that builders, innovators, and entrepreneurs explored together at Xchange Ideas 2023.

At the ideathon, our team was thrilled to help facilitate explorations of some really cool robotics ideas—from assistive toys for older adults to vertical farming solutions for monitoring crop health.

Ideas in action: bringing together diverse perspectives

Whether attendees wanted feedback to refine their existing ideas or develop a new concept from scratch, people of all backgrounds were encouraged to participate! 

Diverse perspectives enabled attendees to imagine unique approaches to their ideas. An app-builder chatted with real estate developers on space planning, which gave way to a new and refreshed design. And, after speaking with college students on what helps them to relax, a team building assistive robotic toys was able to rethink some design features to help calm users. 

Attendees also got to take advantage of help from experts in industries like sustainability, food/agriculture, machine learning, responsible AI, and of course, robotics!

Exploring the meaning of innovation together at XchangeIdeas 2023
Exploring the meaning of innovation together

Ideation tips for bringing your ideas to life

Through a series of exercises from XchangePgh’s strategic design toolkit (like this one), participants were able thoroughly evaluate different approaches for bringing their ideas to life.

Have a great robotics idea? Here are a few tips we learned from working through exercises with attendees that we hope will help focus your thinking:

  • Identify the problem you’re trying to solve (why is it important and why is it urgent to address now?)
  • Get into the minds of the people you want to help (what are their goals and challenges?)
  • Create a concept poster to express your idea in a compelling and concise way
  • Make room for different perspectives, both from others and in your own exploration
  • Describe ways to test your ideas to help identify potential obstacles or key actions

The concept poster that attendees used to convey their ideas at XchangeIdeas 2023
The concept poster that attendees used to convey their ideas

From concept to reality: facilitating robotics startup ideas

Our team was so excited to help some of the attendees transform their great robotics startup ideas from concepts into concrete business and build plans!

Big smiles from our team: Hazal Mestci, Developer Advocate & Charlotte Edelson, Head of Community
Big smiles from our team: Hazal Mestci, Developer Advocate & Charlotte Edelson, Head of Community

We helped teams create concept posters, roadmaps, and go-to-market plans for robotics ideas and startups they were passionate about building. To spark inspiration, we also fostered discussions about some challenges people experience in their day-to-day lives that robotics could help alleviate.

And to help folks imagine how they might test robotics ideas quickly, we shared some ways they could use Viam to:

Using the event app to help out teams with robotics ideas at XchangeIdeas 2023
Using the event app to help out teams with robotics ideas

We’re proud to have played a part in inspiring the next generation of robotics entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life. Take a look below at some of the most exciting ideas that participants presented!

Changing the game: standout projects and ideas

We were impressed by the creative thinking and caliber of projects dreamed up by different teams. Here are just a few of the standout ideas that participants explored over the weekend:

  • A robotic toy that helps old adults affected by dementia to calm anxious feelings by changing facial expressions and providing a sense of companionship
  • A vertical farming solution in food deserts that utilizes robotic arms to track moisture levels and to identify crop diseases
  • A no-code platform for training machine learning models in minutes and creating model visualizations
  • An AI solution to automate writing technical documentation on code based on GitHub repos
  • An airport buddy that helps you proactively keep track of flights, changes, luggage delivery, and other travel information
  • An AI-powered website for writing cover letters based on a resume and job description
  • An ecotechnology platform for onboarding companies onto the greenhouse gas exchange protocol to enable transparent carbon footprints and reporting
  • An AI-powered app for picking jewelry based on different metals, shapes, and sizes

A great weekend of ideation and innovation!
A great weekend of ideation and innovation!

It was a memorable weekend for participants and our team alike! And it’s just the start of a series of exciting events hosted by XchangePgh.

During Xchange Innovation Week, our CEO, Eliot Horowitz, will be giving a fireside chat on April 26 to share his journey and vision for robotics. If you’ll be around and have any questions for him, sign up here to attend.

Have a great robotics idea? Explore it with our experts!

We’re laser-focused on empowering the next generation of robotics builders and startups. If you’re interested in building robots that solve interesting problems or are working on robotics solutions for real-world challenges, we’d love to help.

Reach out to our team of robotics experts or join our growing Discord community to share and discuss with like-minded folks. No idea is too big or small—all great things start with a spark!

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