USB outlet morphs into article

Every other week, I spend a few days visiting my client at their office, which is in a different State.

When it comes to packing for this short business trips, I have become quite an expert: I like getting rid of anything that is not strictly necessary, so I often find myself missing a swimsuit at a hotel with an amazing pool, lacking an umbrella during the mother of all storms, or buying a sweater at the airport to cope with A/C. Ok, maybe I’m not an expert at all.

Anyway, back to my frequent trips to this client.

After some trial and error, I ended up being a regular of this hotel. There is nothing I particularly love about it, but I want to tell you about a specific feature: the rooms have got like a dozen USB outlets.

I travel with several devices that require charging, and that means that I always carry around a useful, bulky, nerd adaptor that allows me to plug four things at a time: it is an item that would always make it to the packing list.

The first night I spent at this place I didn’t mind much about the USB ports. If you had asked me, I couldn’t have told: I had my adaptor and those things are not for me.

Somehow, one day during my second stay I used one of the outlets. It worked, and the next day I ended up decorating the whole room with my devices plugged all over the room.

When I was packing for my next trip, I remembered the USB super powered room, and I dared to leave my adaptor at home.

Since then, I am traveling even lighter, and I am loving the feature more and more. What a sad boring USB-loving little man. Sure, but that’s not my point: my point is that it took four stays at the hotel for me to try, adopt and love a feature that I now consider to be key, just because it allows me to save a leave a few ounces at home.

When coming up with a new feature, it is useful to understand:

  • Where the need is created. Like ‘packing light’ and ‘usb outlet’ in the example above, the need may be disconnected in time and space from the feature.
  • How to validate a solution. Sometimes, even the best research could not help understand how a new product will change its users, and a courageous leap is needed before jumping to conclusions.
  • Who (and what) is it for: This probably answers the two questions above. The solution in the example is targeting regular travelers or people who forgot their chargers. Anybody traveling with an adaptor couldn’t care less about USB outlets.

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