What is Nike Flyleather?


Traditional full grain leathers have been a staple of the shoe industry for centuries. While, leather still reigns king in some categories of shoes it has been pushed out by newer, lighter, and cheaper materials in other categories. However, Nike has created Flyleather, which is a sustainable and luxurious leather product which is also durable and light. Nike Flyleather is made of genuine recycled leather fused with synthetic parts that create the most advanced leather-like material ever. Nike has used Design Thinking to change the shoe game. Hannah Jones, the Nike Chief of Sustainability Officer and VP of the Innovation Accelerator says, “The earth is the athlete’s biggest playground, so one of our greatest opportunities is to create breakthrough products while protecting our planet, Nike Flyleather is an important step toward ensuring athletes always have a place to enjoy sport.”



Flyleather is the lowest carbon-footprint leather material ever produced. Unlike traditional manufacturing where one-third of the cows hide ends up in a landfill, Nike gathers real leather scrap from tanneries and turns them into fibers. The fibers are combined with synthetic ones in a hydro process that turn them into one new material. The finished product can now be pigmented and put on even rolls to be cut. The end result is Flyleather.



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Identical to the real thing, but better

Flyleather is identical to genuine leather and feels like it too. As reported on their website, “Nike Flyleather completely mimics athletic, pigmented full-grain leathers in everything from fit to touch,” says Tony Bignell, Nike VP of Footwear Innovation. “Unlike with traditional leathers, Flyleather can be produced with a consistent grade across a broader range of product.”


The traditional leather is Nike’s second highest environmental impact item. The innovation of Flyleather solves that. Creating Flyleather uses 90% less water and results in an 80% lower carbon footprint than traditional leather. A finished pair of shoes made of Flyleather has half the carbon-footprint of shoes made of conventional leather. Additionally, Flyleather comes in roles which improve cutting efficiency and diminishes waste.  “Nike believes in science, and that climate change is real,” says Jones. “That’s why Flyleather is a game-changer. As we witness the impact of climate change, the world is getting after a low-carbon economy, and Nike is innovating it.”


Flyleather impresses from a performance aspect as well because it is 40% lighter and 5x as durable. Leather has been considered obsolete for use in sport shoes for quite some time as synthetics have taken over for their light weight and cost efficiency. Flyleather might mean leather will be brought back more and more in fields where it was previously considered outdated.




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Now Available for the Public

The first product to feature Flyleather is the Nike Flyleather Tennis Classic, which is a new version of a classic court shoe. The shoe’s release date was September 18th and was available only in white/white for $85. More models that include Flyleather are expected to release in the near future. If you want to make a positive difference in the health of our planet and are considering purchasing a new pair of shoes, buy a pair with Nike Flyleather today.









Netflix: Streamlining Streaming


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Netflix has proved to be one of the most innovative companies in the nation. From discovering a solution to a downfall in another company’s business to being the largest streaming service around the world, it seems there is nothing Netflix can’t do.

Reed Hastings, one of the founders of Netflix and the current owner, originated the idea of Netflix after being fined $40 at Blockbuster for turning in Apollo 13 late. After pairing with Marc Randolph, they decided to make the “Amazon.com of something.” They soon materialized Netflix in 1997 and launched it in 1998

Prior to the everyday household item it is today, Netflix was only a system in which one could “pay-per-rent” DVDs online, with a starting selection of 925 DVDs in 1998, very similar to its rival Blockbuster. However, in 1999 Netflix presented the subscription model in which subscribers would only pay a flat rate and would receive unlimited rentals without late charges and due dates. This innovative thinking is what ultimately ranked them above Blockbuster. By 2005, Netflix owned more than 35,000 films and mailed around one million DVDs a day.

In predicting the fall of DVDs, Netflix introduced online streaming in 2007. By incorporating streaming, Netflix has cut out the hassle and wait time in receiving movies. Additionally, you no longer have to pay extra for individual movie channel subscriptions or packages. Instead, all one has to do is pay a monthly fee, as low as $7.99 and as high as $13.99, in order to gain access to countless movies one can stream at the touch of a button.

Moreover, Netflix introduced original content (“Netflix Originals”) in 2013 with House of Cards. With its success, Netflix continued producing “Netflix Originals,” releasing about 130 in 2016 alone. This has once again set Netflix apart from competitors. Instead of paying for movie packages and channels, one can get access to a menagerie of movies and original content from a single provider with a monthly subscription.

Additionally, Netflix has experienced rapid expansion starting in 2010 with Canada. Netflix now reaches every country in the world except for Syria, North Korea, and Crimea. The picture below depicts Netflix streaming as of 2016, the red being where Netflix services are available. In 2017, Netflix struck a deal with China (which is why it is still gray).

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Everything Netflix has done, from creation to globalization has been nothing but innovative. Hastings and Randolph took a pain point of a company and transformed it into a worldwide movement. Now, people all over the world give Netflix gift cards as a present, expanding the reach of the service even greater. As of May 2017, the market cap on Netflix was 61.6 billion dollars and is ranked the 5th most innovative company according to Forbes.







Will Bitcoin be the Currency of the Future?

Bitcoins have been making waves in news reports, social media, and conversations recently due to exploding gains on the cryptocurrency. However, much of this conversation includes detailing what exactly bitcoin is and if it is sustainable.

So what exactly is a bitcoin?

A bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency (an encrypted accounting system) and a payment system. This innovative type of currency has the possibility to change the future of the global financial sector. This is the first time, as a world, that it is possible we have had the same currency.

The unique aspect of bitcoin is that, unlike dollars or euros, there is no middleman or issuer like a bank or governments. Bitcoin operations are fully peer to peer and information is automated and stored in a public ledger for accountability. The idea behind this was to do away with the inefficiencies, fees, and potential for corruption associated with banking institutions.

Bitcoin hopes to be the future of global money transfers because it does not pay any attention to country borders. For a bitcoin transfer, there is no need for a credit card company, bank, or many transmission company like Western Union to be involved. These bitcoin transfers could be extremely beneficial for sending remittances, which much of the developing world often relies on, but only if they have a way of receiving and spending the money.

So how does it work?


Bitcoins can be acquired a few different ways, first anyone can buy a bitcoin on one of several different exchanges, which could cost you about about $17,700 US dollars for 1 bitcoin, second you could transfer or receive bitcoins from anyone with a mobile phone or internet access, third bitcoins can be mined through a decentralized computer process. Bitcoin supply will be capped at 21 million to regulate the monetary base and have a controlled supply. Mining rewards will be halved every four years beginning around mid-2020 until the supply limit is reached around 2140.


Before you go out there and turn all your money into bitcoins, you should hear about some of the risks. One of the main concerns of this new innovation is bitcoins are not backed by anything. Many people are wondering when bitcoins will lose their value.

Security can be an issue with bitcoin. There have been a number of hacks on exchanges, where people buy bitcoins, reported and often it is impossible to trace if this money was lost, stolen, or if it will ever be seen again. Just last week, hackers took nearly $70 million from a bitcoin mining service, which was the 4th largest bitcoin hack to date.

Transfers are done through mobile phones or computers, but because only 62.9% of the world has access to mobile phones and only 47% of the world has access computers with internet access. It seems unlikely that bitcoin could become the sole global currency and facilitate all global money transfers without addressing these issues first.

Due to its anonymity and lack of regulations, bitcoin has also become known as a source of illicit financial activity such as money laundering and drug trafficking.

Another interesting thing to note is that the bitcoin craze is using up extremely high levels of electricity. Some analysts say that bitcoin is using up as much energy as Denmark, or enough to power 3,071,823 U.S. households. This is a significant, and growing, strain on electricity resources, especially when coal is used and contributing to climate change.

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Teachers: The World’s Best Innovators​


In a Como Elementary classroom, you may find 34 students, one teacher, and not enough resources. Unfortunately, this is the case with many public schools across the United States. How are teachers expected to teach when kids aren’t encouraged to learn? Teachers have begun innovating.




At the Como Community Center innovation is expected. However, it’s not called innovation it is just getting the job done. With little resources and parent participation, due to work and life responsibilities, these teachers are not only responsible for encouraging learning but to actually educate. To make learning fun, Como Community Center is required to instill the confidence in each child that they can learn. For example, Black History Month. After a week of lessons discussing slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, influential African-American leaders the movie Hidden Figures was incorporated. The kids were ecstatic. Integrating fun activities into everyday learning is more efficient and has the power to change the classroom.


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Schools across America are now actively incorporating design thinking in the classroom and overall educational experience. IDEO’s “Design Thinking for Educators” presents examples of teachers using design thinking to make the life of their students and fellow teachers more practical and better. A specific example is Michael Schurr, a second-grade teacher in New York who asked the question “How might my classroom be redesigned to better meet my students’ needs?” He met with his students and asked them personally, he decided to lower the bulletin boards and create a semi-private study space. Mr. Schurr now says “his students are more engaged, and move more fluidly in the classroom space.” Another example is the Howard County Public School System in Maryland, who asked the question “How might we redesign our approach to curriculum development and delivery to center around the needs and desires of our teachers and students?” The specific struggle this school system faced is how to teach 21st-century skills with a currently paper-based curriculum. By asking parents, students, and teachers what they want the school system was able to redesign how to incorporate both technology and paper-based education.


The problems within the educational system cannot go unnoticed, specifically, in Texas. The amount of fourth-grade students “above adequate” in reading and mathematics is 31 percent and only lowers when focusing on African American and Hispanic children. Jorge Ruiz, a preschool teacher, concentrates on making his students speak in a complete sentence, builds their confidence when it comes to reading, and makes sure they understand every word. His unique teaching style is innovated after learning English as a second language himself. Creating a distinctive lesson plan that helps his students is why he is so successful.


Innovation and Design Thinking is already apart of every classroom. However, taking everything a step further has the power to create serious reform.





Putting Out a Bureaucratic Fire: How the VA is using Human-Centered Design to Rise from the Ashes of Scandal

It was April 23, 2014. From that day on, the name of the Department of Veterans Affairs would be forever tarnished. CNN found that 40 veterans had died while waiting for care at the Phoenix Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facility. A whistleblower revealed that their deaths, and many more, were covered up. This revelation opened a floodgate; as new allegations against other facilities arose, the resignation letters from prominent VA officials piled up a mile high. The public was, rightfully, outraged at the VA. How could we call ourselves the greatest country in the world when our government allows its own veterans to die waiting for healthcare? Now leading the most despised governmental organization in America, the few high-up VA bureaucrats still with a job realized that they needed to make a culture change…and fast.

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(The Phoenix Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center, about which the CNN story was broken)

They decided to turn to the VA’s Center for Innovation (VACI). Founded in 2010, the VACI aims to discover new strategies to take on some of the agency’s most difficult issues. Then after successfully testing the waters with their newfound ideas, they move implement them. At the heart of the VACI is the concept of human-centered design, the notion that organizations should empathize with their users when making a product or policy change in order to improve users’ overall experiences. Followers of human centered design oftentimes employ models of fictional users and their journey dealing with proposed ideas. In light of the VA Scandal, the VACI was immediately called upon to redesign the grim (and apparently deadly) VA user experience.


(Official Logo of the VACI)

After extensive research, the VACI found many structural issues. First, the organization had fallen out of touch with its users and was not adapting well to the 21st century. Most information was communicated to veterans through “snail mail” and the VA was making very few efforts to reach out to younger, Iraq or Afghanistan vets. Secondly, veterans felt that the VA was not adequately supporting their interests. This feeling was due not only to the amount of people dying on waiting lists, but also because of low quality of healthcare facilities as well as frequent negative interactions with the staff. Having visited the VHA in Chicago as a child several times with my father when he needed to speak to clients, I can even say that the facility was sub-par. The hospital wasn’t even air conditioned. The VACI released a customer journey map in July 2014, which highlighted all of these issues. The journey map told the story through the eyes of various personas-fictional but realistic VA users who had a multitude of needs which the organization had to provide. From these results came a variety of prototypes, such as “healthy clinic” models to better preventative and urgent care, and improved communication technology.

While much time still needs to pass until analysis on the success of these major reforms can be done, we can see the success of human-centered design in the VA on a relatively smaller scale. Kathryn Havens, Medical Director of the Women’s Health Clinic of the Milwaukee VA, attended a conference at IDEO in San Francisco where she first learned about human-centered design. Alarmed by the fact that only 20% of VA patients were screened for HIV, she elected to use the design thinking process to solve the issue. She interviewed doctors across the country and found that they often didn’t know what patients to screen for HIV. Doctors simply wanted to avoid talking about sexual history with patients. So, she brought in HIV awareness advocates who had honest conversations with doctors. Then at her clinic, she tested her prototype, which was asking patients if they wanted an HIV test. It clearly worked, seeing as 400 women were tested. Through her efforts in human-centered design, HIV testing at the VA has become normalized.

The VA was rocked to the core by scandal and has since been looked down upon by the American public. However, there is hope for it in the form of the VACI. Utilizing human-centered design, it has been highly effective in implementing projects on a somewhat smaller scale. Only time will tell if reforms on a mass-scale will be similarly successful. And for the sake of the millions of veterans who rely on the VA for medical care, we better hope it is.

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The New Taxi : UBER

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Uber is a new innovation of everyday travel, but is now a common household term. Everyday people drive to work, to the airport, and to your house after a night out. The older generations in the beginning thought Uber was just for college kids to find a tech savvy way from the bar to the dorm. But Uber has proved them wrong. I called my grandparents an uber the other day to church cause they both felt too exhausted to drive and the same day I called an uber home from tutoring cause my car was in the shop. Uber was already functioning, but they keep innovating  it to make it more accessible and exciting. Beside rating your driver after every ride, they also can rate you and it brings a smile to my face when I see my high rating. You can track your rides, look at past trips, and split the fair between friends. Not just the service but the clean cut modern app creates an environment that excites the newest generations. -1x-1.jpghttps://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-15/uber-could-give-us-a-lesson-in-productivity

Uber offers different types of rides there is UberX, UberXL, UberBlack, and now UberVIP. UberX is the typical 1-4 person ride and the cheapest ride. UberXL is the biggest car you can get but is the same car class as an UberX. UberBlack’s are the nicest cars so that you can arrive to your event in style, their is a price surge though. The newest one though is UberVIP which is only for the select customers that have taken over 100 rides with Uber, with this new program you receive nicer cars but as the same price as a regular UberX.           Unknown.jpeg


They have also created UberPool which is just like your average carpool around the block. Which does mean you’ll be sharing a car with strangers but that means more fun! Also, especially for college kids, it helps that the prices are lower. This created a rise in Uber’s on college campus’.



Uber has also expanded to the food industry. Which is a big hit. Now an Uber driver can go to your favorite restaurant and bring it back to you while you never have to leave the couch. There is other apps like Favor that can do the same services but Uber’s sleek glow attracts customers; the same way people choose Uber over Lyft.

Uber has taken over the taxi industry and almost just driving in general. The innovative technology and design thinking is drawing more customers in while it takes over the world. Not only does Uber draw in customers, but also their drivers. Any Uber driver has their own hours, their car is the office, and  they are their own boss. The best part about Uber is that you never need cash just your iPhone. Technology is taking over the world and Uber is no exception. Uber is fresh, modern, and a perfect example of innovative thinking.

Taps & Swipes: Engaging the ‘U’ in UI

What is UI?

Do you ever think about why Snapchat opens on the camera, why Instagram loads certain posts before others, or why it only takes one click to buy a product on Amazon? These are questions designers have many answers to, but more importantly, they are design choices that were incredibly thought out. Designers spend more time deciding where a button should be placed than one would think. These design choices all go into a category called “User Interface”, or UI.

UI Goes a lot farther than just the position and placement of buttons and objects. UI design is about creating an engaging experience for the user. Let’s look at a few examples.

Case Study: Snapchat

Snapchat’s User Interface Layout

Not surprisingly, Snapchat has a really good design team. From bright colors to animated characters, Snap has mastered the friendly and fun UI design. But how functional is it?

As you may have noticed, Snapchat splits each component to a different direction of the screen, with the camera in the middle. As they stated after announcing a redesign:
“As always, Snapchat opens to the Camera, making it the fastest way to share a moment with friends.”

It’s clear that Snap will continue to focus on the camera as the main component, with each other feature revolving around it.

Especially with the newly redesigned version, Snapchat’s design is getting more and more usable. With a clear and concise interface that doesn’t clutter the screen, and a simple swipe-to-access interface (we’ll talk about this later). They’re constantly innovating with new products like Spectacles, a one-click version of Snapchat on space-age looking sunglasses. Spectacles bring a whole new experience to Snapchat, with the one-click to record function and seamless integration into the app. The design choices are very clear and oriented towards users who can start ‘snapping’ straight out of the box.

Snapchat’s Spectacles (Released 2016)


Design Principles: HMU

HMU’s consistent design split across 3 screens

Last summer after WWDC17, I was thinking about how it’s always difficult to know when a friend or family member arrives safely. Thus, the idea of HMU was born. HMU is an app that sends notifications to select friends when you enter or leave pre-set regions. My mom uses it to know when I arrive and leave school safely, and I use it to know when my friends arrive at my house. Understanding interface design is crucial when creating an app, especially for iOS.


The design idea behind HMU started simple- I wanted to create a minimalistic interface that would ask “Hit _____ up when ______” and the user would select each blank from a dropdown. This would have worked, but I found it too similar to IFTTT‘s interface. Going back to the drawing board, I thought more about creating a smooth interface that could bring all the features I wanted in one place. Following the basic rules snapchat follows: a consistent, clean, and simple interface that blends together, I came up with the design you see on the right.


It was definitely a hit. Every tester I spoke with told me the new design was much easier to use and required no explanation. Starting on the home screen, the user could swipe up or tap “Create New HMU” to access the creation menu; they could also swipe down, or tap the top to access the main menu. This provided one-swipe access to every feature in the app, and my interface problem was solved.


In the following years, there’s no doubt that interface design will drastically change. AI is taking over interface design, getting increasingly habitual and predicting your preferences without having to lift a finger. Soon these principles will no longer be up-to-code, but we can only continue evolving and updating forward.