Inspiration from 'Smart Interconnected’ for successful innovation

Innovation can take shape around many aspects. But where is the best place to start and why? In this third blog, dealing with successful innovation, we present some inspiring examples that relate to the 'smart interconnected’ trend. Sirris is organising an Inspiration session to take place on 29 March, and you can register for this already.

It is not easy to create a coherent innovation plan that matches your company’s strategy. We can help you with this by means of a four-step structured approach in four steps in which ‘inspiration' is an important first step. This works by providing better insight into dominant patterns (trends) that show, with concrete examples, how the business, product and production aspects evolve.

After ‘Servitisation' we explain the 'Smart interconnected' trend in more detail.

In the 'Smart interconnected' trend we distinguish four models: 'Multi-disciplinary', 'Smart product', ‘interconnected product' and 'Product system'. Each of these models tries to capture the value of the services provided as far as possible. Whether or not a model works mainly depends on the supplier-customer relationship. If the customer needs a better model, but the supplier does not follow, a problem arises. It is possible that the customer will then look for an alternative supplier. Conversely, a supplier can anticipate the customer's future requirements and charge a higher price for this, which will also be a problem. The customer and supplier must therefore feel comfortable in the model they choose for their transactions, so that a win-win situation is created.

Below, each model of the 'Smart interconnected' trend is explained in more detail and illustrated with an example.

1. The 'Multi-disciplinary' model

Product characteristics can be improved and additional functions added by multidisciplinary engineering and a combination of advanced materials. New technologies such as additive manufacturing and tools such as simulation can also be put to use. This often involves re-designing from scratch.


Jaga has used multidisciplinary engineering to achieve a much higher heat output, allowing a lower water temperature to be used. The lightweight heating element combines various materials, including copper, aluminium and stainless steel, and holds as little as a tenth as much water, allowing it to react faster. The apparatus is designed so that the air flows through it with as little resistance as possible.

Lightweight heating element from Jaga

2. The 'Smart Product' model

A smart product is one that has had intelligence and an active control integrated into it. This is done using sensors and actuators. This creates a range of new possibilities in the field of monitoring, control, optimisation and autonomy. The environmental conditions and the wishes of a user can also be taken into account.


Hydroko has developed a smart water valve and a smart water meter that can, for example, be applied to the water company’s stopcock in your house. This allows the status of the water meter to be transmitted to the water company wirelessly. Moreover, the water company can remotely control the position of the stopcock (opening, closing, or controlling the flow) if, for example, there is a water leak or a water shortage.

Smart water valve and smart water meter from Hydroko

3. The 'Smart Inter-connected' model

This model focuses on getting optimal interaction between the product and its environment. Products can be automatically connected and communicate with other products in the environment. The product has access to information and services from other smart products in its environment. The interactions take place in real time.


Instead of running street lights continuously at full power, the lights can be dynamically controlled according to needs and presence of users. To ensure the necessary comfort and safety of the users, the lighting is fitted with presence sensors. The light is dimmed or activated as needed. This can lead to extra comfort and energy savings. The data collected from this can then be used to generate suitable energy efficiency reports and dashboards.

'Intelligent Lighting System' from Digital Lumens

4. The 'Smart Interconnected Product System' model

In this model, interaction between a large number of products and product services forms a kind of ecosystem. Physical products are given a virtual equivalent, which makes it possible for software to interact directly with the physical world or respond to the use of the product.


Real-time information from all agricultural machines is collected to increase yield and profitability. This is information about the position on the field, the yield and the condition of the soil. This data is used to make application maps for location-specific fertilisation, which is matched to the measured parameters and needs. The machines are GPS-controlled and can perform their tasks autonomously.

Precision agriculture and land management from Case New Holland

Would you like to know more about other trends and how you can exploit them in your company? In a previous blog we discussed Servitisation, in a next one the ‘Customer-centred' trend will be treated in detail. Would you like to get to know about all trends in detail? For an integral representation of the ten trends, visit our Inspirational session, which will take place on 29 March in the Sirris buildings in Heverlee. Participation is free but registration is required.

Once inspired ... try a proof of concept!

As a product builder, are you ready to extend your hardware with digital functionalities? Or, as a software developer, to create links link with physical products? Or do you have an idea for an innovative smart-connected product? Then you can proceed directly to the development of a proof of concept in Sirris's Smart Connected Innovation Lab, where you can get advice and guidance from our experts and encounter innovative demonstrators and state-of-the-art equipment. From concept to proof-of-concept to industrialisation: we evaluate the viability of your idea, advise on the possibilities and help you on your way realising your innovation.

To show you an example of the possibilities, the Sirris team has developed a demonstration tool. We have integrated cloud, data and interface technologies into an existing smart product: the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. Watch the information video here!

The pilot project “Innovatief ondernemen: van inspiratie tot actieplan”  has been made possible with support from Smart Hub Vlaams-Brabant.