Vol.2 No.3 2009
Research paper : Two types of lead users in a model for the transfer of technology into households (Y. Kubo et al.)−189−Synthesiology - English edition Vol.2 No.3 (2009) the media overlapped with the period of IH promotion by the power company was not by coincident. In fact, the select shop that served as a typical diffusion leader shared interest with the power company that was promoting all electrification. With such a background, the new cooking method was strongly pushed to households through the window of the store in the shopping district of Ginza as well as through the Internet.From the above analysis, this paper proposes a model of the introduction of advanced technology to households through various lead users, as shown in Fig. 4. When introducing IH that was developed by a major electrical appliance company to households, the cooking method accompanying the IH played a major role. The development of the cooking method that fully brought out the technical potential of IH was done by “logical (reasoning-based) lead users” such as cookery researcher W who had specialized knowledge in the technology and cooking, and their goal was to maximize the function of IH for cooking. On the other hand, the diffusion of the new cooking method was promoted by the “sensible (sensitivity-based) lead users” such as S and C of the select shop. These users have excellent perception of the social trend. The simple combination of the advanced technology from the manufacturer and the cooking system that seek IH functionality may not necessarily result in a product that appeals to households, and may not lead to diffusion to homes. On the other hand, the cooking system proposed by sensible lead users who may lack the understanding of technology may produce attractive products that incorporate the social trend, and thereby promote the diffusion of the cooking system to households through the media. The flexible collaboration of diverse lead users contributed to the advancement of IH innovation.7 DiscussionTo introduce advanced technology to households, it is necessary to enable general users who do not understand the technology to appropriately use the product. As indicated by this study, the user cannot make fries only with the IH cooking heater developed by a company. A new cooking method must be developed by the logical lead user, and only when the supplementary components for IH cooking become available do the general users use IH at home. Moreover, the research indicates the possibility that the use of IH may spread to people who are not necessarily interested in cooking, as the users may be attracted to the element of the cooking system that reflects the social trend, such as the “color variations of the spatulas.” How can we evaluate the fact that IH continues to diffuse even though the user is not conscious of the potential of the advanced technology?First of all, it is not easy to disseminate advanced technology to households. As shown by the case of household robots, even if advanced technology realizes wonderful functions, excellent performance alone will not ensure the introduction of a product to the households. For the potential product to be introduced to homes, it is necessary to organize the supplementary system for using the technology in households. As investigated in this paper, there are extremely diverse issues to be considered for a system for “using” advanced technology, such as how IH should be used in households, the safety of the IH cooking system, and environmental assessment (energy efficiency). The design-inspired innovation model that focuses on the product development by Apple Inc. states that the success of a product depends on the design that brings pleasure to the user, and the viewpoint of the user is an element that cannot be neglected. The supplementary system for using the technology at home must be designed to maximize the benefit the household user can receive in the context of social trends at that time.The manufacturers, mainly of major corporations, develop the advanced technology itself. However, there is a limit in specialists designing the system for “using” the advanced technology. As Yoshikawa et al point out, even if the specialists mobilize all their knowledge of thermodynamics, surface science, and rheology pertaining to eggs, they may not necessary be able to produce good fried eggs. In the case of the IH cooking system that is the subject of this research, the cooking system for “using” IH was created by fusing the cooking know-hows with advanced technology. This was accomplished by cooking specialists who sought “scientific cooking” independently from the corporations, and used their kitchens as laboratories. This indicates that by combining cooking practitioners with engineers, it may be possible to make a recipe for making good fried eggs. Also, it is important that the cooking specialist be an independent entity from the corporation. Pressure cookers and waterless cookers are now being used in general households after voluminous information had been supplied by cooking specialists. Therefore, for the advanced technology to be used in households, the autonomous participation of various lead users who specialize in “using” the technology is necessary.Today, the importance of industry-academia collaboration that links science-technology and industry is widely TechnologydeveloperTechnologydeveloperTechnologydeveloperTechnologydeveloperDoes not reachdirectlyHouseholdsHouseholdsLogicallead userSensible lead userFig. 4 Model of introduction of advanced technology to household through various lead users.