FRI’s eye: combining is the beginning of “creating”

There are products and articles which become popular hits. How exactly can new ones be created? I want to examine a certain aspect inherent in this way of thinking. The key word is “combination”.

■The astonishing functionality of the “Ecomo” water bottle

Recently, I discovered a unique item on the US crowdfunding website Kickstarter. It’s called “Ecomo”, and at a first glance it is a regular water battle you could take hiking.

“Ecomo”, showcased on Kickstarter

When taking a stroll up a lush mountain forest, there are times when you reach a beautiful clear stream or a water spring. But no matter how transparent the water may be, it still might be polluted with toxic substances or bacteria. It makes you worry about drinking it or not…
In those moments, you can use “Ecomo”. It’s a smart water bottle with an integrated water-quality test function. The test results get displayed on your smartphone or on its additional bracelet. If it signals the word “GREAT”, then it is OK to drink.
And what’s more, even when the water is not safe to drink, Ecomo comes equipped with its own filter which can purify water. This way, whenever your water runs out you can replenish the bottle from a stream or a well. It also keeps a record of how much water you’ve taken, and other measurements which all together help you to prevent a heatstroke.
This product received 9 times more investment on Kickstarter than what it had aimed for.
Ecomo’s success was due to it having picked up on the fact that nowadays there is a greater interest in physical activities and that people’s awareness of their own hygiene and health is increasing. This product became popular because it skillfully combined these two needs.

■The secret behind Neko zamurai’s success

Regardless of whether it is applied to intangible or tangible things, “creativity” is often compared to the mixing of colors (this is only one possible analogy, however.) You can’t just make a new color from nothing. By combining the 12 colors of your palette in various ways, you sometimes discover a new color you had never seen before.

There is a work called “Neko zamurai” which I personally love. This project started back in 2013, even before the current “cat boom” we are experiencing nowadays, first as a TV show. It has been expanding since then into various formats like a movie, a manga, etc. Even before starting to watch it, the title caught my attention…”Neko zamurai”. What could it mean? I like cats, and I also enjoy period dramas, so…

Was it about “a samurai who owns a pet cat?” Or “a samurai who likes cats?”

It is actually neither of those, as I found out when I started watching it. If I were to describe it in my own words, it is about a master swordsman called Madarame, who is a samurai, living together with a cute cat (whose name is Tamanojoh)… It’s this kind of show.

A samurai who lives his live in constant stress, surrounded by brutality, and a cat who lives a relaxing life, always doing things at his own pace. These two entirely different beings are combined to form a new kind of character who is both a real samurai as well as a real cat, a “Samurai Cat”. This is an entirely new type of period drama.

I must stress this: by combining 2 elements which are simultaneously very familiar, but also totally unrelated to each other, a “new creation” emerges. Probably this combination resonated with so many people that it attracted a large audience to the show. It is by no means a major production, but it is nonetheless a hit show with a great longevity.

■The crucial point is “combination”

Of course, creativity is not this simple. You often see creations which are painted in a mundane, uninteresting color; and others which are painted in showy, exaggerated colors.
To create something truly new you must first “combine”.

(Article by: Kenichi Nakamura)

Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.

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