Serious iPad fun from MAYA Design

For the last a cou­ple of years, I’ve been work­ing I worked on a book project with two of the founders of MAYA Design, Inc.Peter Lucas and Joe Bal­lay. I can’t talk about the book right now (maybe soon), though my My recent com­ment on the iPad reflects a key theme of it: the shift from a com­put­ing agen­da dri­ven by technophiles to an agen­da dri­ven by nor­mal human beings who don’t care about tech­nol­o­gy per se.

(The term MAYA, which is bor­rowed from indus­tri­al design­er Ray­mond Loewy, is an acronym for “Most Advanced Yet Accept­able” and has noth­ing to do with the Mesoamer­i­can civ­i­liza­tion or the well-known 3D soft­ware called Maya.)

Facejobs for iPad

Besides being high-end design­ers, the MAYAns are inven­tors and inno­va­tion con­sul­tants. They help peo­ple in busi­ness see things differently–radically dif­fer­ent­ly if we’re talk­ing about real inno­va­tion, as opposed to the lit­tle tweaks that the com­put­er indus­try typ­i­cal­ly calls inno­va­tion. Real inno­va­tion is heresy, a deep break with the ortho­dox. It springs from a fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent ori­en­ta­tion to real­i­ty.

Heretic” usu­al­ly calls to mind fig­ures like Gior­dano Bruno and Galileo, but Edwin Land, the inven­tor of the Polaroid cam­era, was cer­tain­ly one. (Most peo­ple called him “Dr. Land” though he pos­sessed no for­mal degree from any­where.) The sto­ry may be apoc­ryphal, but sup­pos­ed­ly Land snapped a pho­to of his young daugh­ter one day with a con­ven­tion­al cam­era. She exclaimed, “Dad­dy, let me see the pic­ture!” and the rest was a pret­ty big piece of pho­tog­ra­phy his­to­ry.

Being a kid, Land’s daugh­ter wasn’t in a posi­tion to cre­ate the cam­era and the com­pa­ny and all those hap­py pic­ture-tak­ers and tech-sec­tor jobs. That required a grown-up will­ing to have his head turned around. It’s a rare qual­i­ty. If you’re deeply invest­ed in the con­ven­tion­al wis­dom you’re not like­ly to escape the numb­ing effects of famil­iar­i­ty and sud­den­ly see the world in a whole new way.

Even so, the MAYAns believe that some method­olo­gies for cul­ti­vat­ing inno­va­tion can be learned, and in fact they have a new spin­off, The Luma Insti­tute, for doing just that.

For a quick glimpse into their world, take a look at two lit­tle side-projects they’ve cooked up around Apple’s new iPad: Sprock­et and Face­jobs. Sprock­et (an app plus a wear­able car­ry­ing bag) lets bicy­clists com­mu­ni­cate with the world behind them. Face­jobs is a hand-pup­pet appli­ca­tion.

MAYA Sprocket for iPad

Nobody said that heresy has to arrive in the world look­ing like the Grim Reaper (although that Face­jobs guy is pret­ty scary-look­ing). If Sprock­et and Face­jobs seem too sil­ly for seri­ous atten­tion, give your head a ten-degree twist and think about it again. Whim­sy is often a door­way into orig­i­nal­i­ty. And MAYA’s vision of the future of com­put­ing does not look like “com­put­ing.”

You might also be inter­est­ed in an iPad post from MAYA’s CEO, Mick McManus.

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