Quirky is the future of manufacturing, asserting that “the best ideas in the world aren't actually in the world, they're locked inside people's heads.” Their product selection process is democratic, as participants from all over the world are encouraged to submit their product ideas through a public web portal. Out of thousands, only twelve are brought to the weekly Product Evaluation.
Ideas that receive a majority vote move onto the next stage of development and enter Quirky’s official product portfolio. The idea then goes through several phases of development in which the community, in collaboration with a team of designers and engineers, select a name, tagline, price and color. Finally, the product is green-lit for mass manufacture and are distributed to retailers worldwide.
Previously selected products are, well, quirky - like Pluck, which perfectly separates eggs; Stem, a citrus spritzer; and Porter, a BBQ prep container and server.
In 2014, Quirky is particularly fixated on more advanced electronic devices, dubbed "smart" products. In a recent $30 million partnership with (GE), Quirky was able to bring five new "smart" products to market. The Pivot Power Genius, for example, is a power strip that lets the user directly control any plugged in device from another location; the Spotter is a multipurpose sensor that monitors the home; and the Egg Minder is a smart egg tray that monitors the freshness of eggs in a carton.
“All of these products connect to your mobile device via Wi-Fi and are controlled from one app called Wink,” said Brett Kovacs, Quirky Head of Strategic Partnerships. “Imagine opening your front door and your lamp turns on. That would be Spotter talking to Pivot Power Genius.”
Quirky intends to further develop smart products that contribute to the "Internet of Things" culture, a phenomenon established by the shift of ordinary, stagnant items to products that possess internet capabilities. The concept of the "Internet of Things" is sustainable at its core; "smart" products enable energy output monitoring. Without this luxury, users are often unaware of energy consumption.
“In 2014, we’re aiming to bring twelve connected devices to market as a part of our overall product plan,” said Kovacs. “Smart home, app-enabled, connected devices are going to be a really important part of our lives as we continue to see tons of possibilities with these products.”
Quirky implements sustainable practices in physical manufacture as well as the conceptual. Whenever possible, Quirky minimizes emissions by manufacturing larger products within the US opposed to abroad, while using as little packaging as possible. One of their products, Porkfolio – a smart piggy bank, is manufactured with low chlorine content PVC, as it can be harmful to breathe during the heating and molding cycle.
“We certainly consider the whole life cycle of a product from inception to retail shelves,” said Kovacs. “This includes our material choices and manufacturing methods as well as the engineering of disassembled parts to be properly disposed of at the end of product life."