By Rachael Dalton-Taggart in Scottsdale, AZ

John Gage, the COFES 2011 keynote speaker sponsored by Geomagic, wowed today's attendees with his presentation tracking the history of innovation through to today.


In an hour-long presentation, John crammed multiple facts, anecdotes and quotes that demonstrated how culture, language and even the availability of batteries influence the innovations that come at us.

He pointed out that he feels we are at a point now of innovation which is similar to the 1980s, which was dominated by the development of microprocessors. He tracked innovation from as far back as the mid-1800's, demonstrating how each new innovation sparked a series of others, developing through to the 1980's where the new chip processing power augured an entirely new language, a new way of thinking and a startling array of new innovations.

An interesting point that he showed was that many important innovations, especially the more recent ones, have been created by students rather than by companies. His conclusion:"Students don't have to take meetings." Maybe we all have a lot to learn from that!

Using many and varied quotes from both well- and lesser-known innovators, John kept managing to ram his points home to the 260 attendees. One that has stayed in my mind is from Dr. Edwin Lund."Redesign is not so much having a new idea as stopping having an old idea," and"Invention is a sudden cessation of stupidity."

As we enter a new level of innovation, we need to remember that the creative platform is being raised by the innovations of everyone else. That is true not just of the CAD and engineering software industries but also for the rest of the world.