We know innovation requires more than just a great idea – it requires the successful delivery of a solution, and that starts with working prototype. A few weeks ago, we held the first Warp Accelerated Rapid Prototyping (WARP) invitational event. WARP is a high speed innovation experience where participants bring ideas from paper to working prototype in a matter of days. The two-day event provided the environment, resources, and tools to build working Internet of Things (IoT) prototypes. The event — collaboratively hosted and designed by the Cisco Hyper-Innovation Learning Labs (CHILL) team and the Distinguished Services Engineers (DSEs) community— was a great demonstration of the value of prototyping and incubation to innovation.

Over two days, 25 engineers from across Cisco gathered in Raleigh, NC, worked in teams, and built 7 working prototypes. Some started as customer requests, others were passion projects but each idea centered around IoT solutions. Each team had a simple focus: take an idea, get something working, and solicit real feedback.

Each team was given two days and a WARP Kit – a box of tools including sensors, code, actuators, and microprocessors. Teams worked on diverse ideas such as smart shelves for grocery produce quality, a health alert chair to keep sedentary workers on the move, and even connected pet bowls to track the rate of Fido’s or Fluffy’s water consumption. Some of the prototypes are slated to be incubated internally with development teams.warp_prototype

One of the prototypes, adaptive lighting for TelePresence (TP), is a great example of an idea that will enhance our everyday working experience here at Cisco. The team wanted to solve the problem of non-optimal lighting, resulting in faces that are dark or only half-lit over web cam, TP, and WebEx. A team of Cisco engineers locked themselves in a room and at the end of the day had a working prototype which used a laptop’s web cam and facial recognition software to identify faces, detect and eliminate shadows, and adjust color-hue LED lighting to enhance the face over TP – much the same way a professional lighting technician would for a TV broadcast.

Overall the event sparked ideas, new thinking, and new solutions for IoT. I’m really excited about our role in demonstrating the value of prototyping and incubation to innovation.


Kip Compton

No longer with Cisco