The art of subtraction

Are you also annoyed by all kinds of incredibly stupidly designed products and services? A true visionary will not stop there and will invent a much smarter alternative. In this article the first SIT tool: subtraction.

The art of subtraction
The basic principles of SIT have already been discussed in the first part. Now the first of the five tools used at SIT: the subtraction. Completely new products and services can be devised with this astonishingly simple technique.

Less is more
This winged slogan is all too true when you come up with new products and services. Everyone knows the gadgets bursting with all kinds of functions that the average consumer is not waiting for. Logical, adding something is very easy. Especially when it comes to software. Still, it is worth taking something away. This often creates surprising products and services.

By omitting things from a car window with wipers, a number of surprising new products are created.

Example: a car window with windshield wipers
Step 1: the Closed World of the car window
Every car has, compulsory, a front and rear window with wipers. If we focus on the windshield, we come to the following parts.
- the open air
- the rain or other precipitation
- the windshield wipers
- the window itself
- the indoor air
- the body that surrounds the window and the rest of the car.

Step 2: what happens if we remove parts from this?
Removing the outside air sounds nonsensical, but what if the outside air changes into that which consists of rain, water? Aquarium enthusiasts are probably familiar with the problem of algae adhering to the wall of the aquarium. That's what those annoying magnetic erasers tend to fall off the wall. Who knows, there are avid hobbyists interested in automatic windshield wipers for aquariums. A cleaning robot or something similar.
Product idea: automatic windshield wipers for aquariums

What if you remove the rain? Windshield wipers for a dry window sounds insane, but it isn't. Take, for example, a windy, dusty environment like the Sahara, where desert dust is constantly settling on the windows. This is also a major problem for solar panel builders in the desert.
Product idea: dust wipers for the desert.

What do we get when we remove the windshield wipers? Then the water droplets merge and the precipitation eventually creates a water film on the glass pane. Remarkably, visibility improves so quickly (I involuntarily put it to the test when my windshield wipers broke on the way).
Product idea: Apply a special hydrophilic coating to the window to create this effect artificially. This way you no longer need windshield wipers.

It is also interesting to remove the window yourself. What would it be like to drive a car without a windshield? Not very pleasant, but there are applications for which such a car could be very useful: a moving wind tunnel, for example.
Product idea: a moving wind tunnel, in which the wind is generated by driving.

And what if you only have a window, with wipers but without a car? At the moment we are inundated with so-called tablets. These are laptops from which they have removed the keyboard (by the way also a good example of the power of the principle of subtraction). Cleaning should always be done with expensive detergent. Wouldn't there be a market for a tablet cleaner that you can pull over the thing like a windshield wiper? OK, not very sensible but who knows. Something more sensible is a coin-operated machine with which you can clean sensitive surfaces.
Product idea: Windshield wiper gadget for tablets.
Product idea: cleaning machine for tablets

This is of course also possible with services. Try it for fun.

Also read: That's how you become an inventor

Mascha van der Voort et al, Product designs, ISBN 90 5931 331 3, Lemma 2004

7 thoughts on “De kunst van het aftrekken”

  1. Peer Polderman

    "... Everyone knows the gadgets bursting with all kinds of functions that the average consumer is not waiting for."

    And a tablet with a motor and a screen wiper is not included?

    BTW: I would have called the article: “The art of reduction”.

  2. Nicely described Germen, thank you!

    For example, I once invented an 'Open Door'; that was more intuitive, but afterwards I still recognize a few similarities with SIT.

    I needed a door for the bedroom that would let air in but keep out light, family members and cats. That became a door with a light barrier, I even made beautiful 3D illustrations, maybe a prototype will follow ...

  3. Nice piece.

    When I'm waiting in front of the traffic light (for the bike), I sometimes think about things like the windshields of cars.
    They did not exist one hundred and fifty years ago.
    There are billions of people in the world who will never own a car and therefore no windshield wipers.
    Why are there so many different sizes?
    Why don't all cars have the same size windscreen, that's much more efficient.

    Eventually the traffic light turns green and I drive on, without windscreen and without windscreen wipers.

Leave a Comment