Innovation, Inspiration, and Knowledge Access


“Acquiring preemptive knowledge about emerging technologies is the best way to ensure that we have a say in the making of our future.” — Catarina Mota


In her TEDTalk, Catarina Mota explains the benefits of freely sharing knowledge about smart materials. Currently, details about innovations like conductive ink and thermal sensitive color changing materials remain locked away within trade secrets or patents that are only available at university labs. Mota suggests that by sharing knowledge, we can ensure greater success in the future.

In 2009, Mota and Kirsty Boyle launched Openmaterials.org in hopes of creating a platform where visionaries can share their knowledge and efforts through trial and error, how-to’s and tutorials. Moreover, they help lead the open source effort when it comes to DIY. And we’re not talking DIY arts and crafts here; contributors are teaching one another how to utilize materials like paper, textiles, polymers, metal, organic materials, ceramic and glass to create life-changing inventions.

So how will an effort like this impact our society as a whole? Since many average people don’t have access to elaborate and expensive laboratories, Open Materials users can share alternative ways to create comparable life-changing inventions. Finding ways to make these products at a lower cost will in turn make them accessible to everyone.

If you’re still wondering why we need to be able to use smart materials, Mota leaves us with an intriguing explanation: “We can’t shape what we don’t understand and what we don’t understand and use ends up shaping us.”

To learn more about ground breaking innovators, or channeling the power of your own creativity, check out “How to Maintain Innovation and Creativity” and “As competition intensifies, the need for creative thinking increases…”