Recently I’ve noticed an interesting new “group” of innovations in the tech world: Product Transformers. Instead of trying to get an exciting totally new, radical innovation into your house; they tap into existing products. Lowering the effort for adaption, making it easier for the user to make the shift to digital /smart /…

I was one of the first in my environment to wear a Fitbit, have a Nest Smart Thermostat, track my sleep, … As a tech-savvy person I love to try out new innovation, discover new opportunities, … but I’ve to admit that many of the products I buy on Kickstarter end up not being used. Their problem: they don’t tap into my existing behavior. They ask too much from me. Installing my Nest Thermostal was the hell, when I moved into my new appartment I didn’t find the time to re-install my Smappee, I only have one smart OMsignal shirt (I don’t do my laundry every day!).

Thank God a new and very interesting opportunity field is rising up: the Product Transformers. They all start from an existing product and transform them easily into a smart one.

Their Value Proposition looks like this:

Turn any _{existing product}_ into a _{smart product}_, with _{name}_

or

_{Name}_ transforms any _{existing product}_ into a _{smart product}_

Some transformers currently on the market:


> Turn any bulb into a smart light, with Emberlight

emberlighthttp://www.emberlight.co/


> Chronos transforms any watch into a smartwatch

chronos.mp4

http://www.wearchronos.com


> The FlyKly Smart Wheel transforms any bike into an e-bike

SmartWheel

http://flykly.com


> Oliba Turns Regular Cuddly Toys Into Connected, Story Telling Toys

olibahttp://oliba.fr


We’re not only talking about tech hardware here. Software and non-tech hardware do the trick as well.
For example:


> SumoMe turns any webpage into a high-converting page

sumomehttp://sumome.com


>Thea Swing transforms any swing into a safe, comfortable Swingbag.

TheaSwinghttp://theaswing.com


Why are these Products Transformers so powerful?

1. They tap into our existing behaviour/environment

Radical innovations traditionally go through several steps to get to their 100% market share. With first the innovators using the product, followed by the early adopters, early majority, … Why? Because radical innovations often need to change user-behaviour, and most people are risk-averse. Users need to learn how to use the product/service, it needs to fit in our busy life, the user needs to be educated! Not so with product transformers. Users don’t have to change their behaviour, the product just adds functionalities to what you’re already used to. Lowering the barriers to use/buy the product means faster market-fit, faster user-growth.

2. They’re dummy proof, easy to install

Almost all examples I’ve seen are ready-to-go in under 5 min. As a user,  you know already how to use the main product, you’re already trained. Because the product is designed to fit all existing products an installation manual is often not necessary. When I got my Nest Thermostat, installation didn’t go well. It almost took me +1 hour to install the stupid device, good luck I’m quite handy. Still waiting for the battery that transforms any normal thermostat into a smart one 😉

3. They ease the decision making process

The common belief is that choice increase sales. Although research shows there’s a limitations to the amount of choice people should have, product transformers take away the follow dilemma: Should I switch to this new product with awesome feature X, but without feature Y? How well user-driven a product may be, there’ll always be users who don’t like the color, miss a certain feature or believe it doesn’t fit their lifestyle.
On top of that there are always products that are difficult to replace because of their high emotional value. I wonder how many people have invested a lot of money in a traditional swiss watch and don’t want to give it up for a smartwatch that needs to be charged by the end of the day

Do you know other Product Transformers?

Visit my “Product Transformers” collection @ProductHunt for other examples or share your own ideas below as a comment. Looking forward to hear your thoughts!