Inspiring innovators

They are flying across oceans without fuel, giving ordinary people super strength, and growing crops in the desert. Here is the story of three innovators who are changing the world. But we didn’t get there in one day. Each invention is built on a history of extraordinary human achievements – many of which are enshrined today in ISO standards.

By offering a solid base, a common language and a layer of confidence, ISO standards help our greatest minds to concentrate on pushing the limits and taking us to new places.

Flying without fuel – Solar Impulse

When the Wright brothers built the first airplane, they never dreamt that we would one day use their invention to cross oceans. Today, Solar Impulse has completed the first round-the-world solar flight without fuel or polluting emissions, using only the power of the sun. But as André Borschberg tells us, the technology they use is not revolutionary; what’s revolutionary is how they put it together.

ISO standards played a role in these developments by enabling engineers from different backgrounds to work together, understand each other across industries, and source parts and technology.

Cyborg-type robots – Cyberdyne

People with gait disorders may no longer be confined to wheelchairs thanks to an innovative wearable robot. It can also give ordinary people a kind of “super strength” by reducing the stress on the person's back so they can lift weights a lot more times than they normally would without hurting themselves. The cyborg-type device brings together human and robot into what has been dubbed “the first cyborg”.

When Cyberdyne started out, it took a big risk investing in a completely new area without the assurance that it would be considered safe. That’s where ISO came in, bringing together some of the world’s top experts in robotics to develop the first International Standard for personal care robots. As for Cyberdyne, it could use the standard to guide the design process from the ground up.

Growing crops a drop at a time – Netafim

Water scarcity and desertification are among the biggest problems our world is facing today. But there is hope. Netafim has developed a technology to grow more with less using available resources to the limit. They can deliver nutrients directly to the roots, at the right moment, one drop at a time.

Drip irrigation has been used in large-scale farms in developed countries with great success – but how can we make this technology accessible to those who need it most? ISO standards can help. As a great source of knowledge available to all, they enable markets to become more competitive, and thus more affordable to the poorest countries.

Why standards matter

You all know about the quiet helper, who doesn’t draw much attention but is on hand to assist whenever you need it?

That’s what ISO standards are like. They are made by experts from around the world, who get together to discuss and agree on practical solutions to the challenges faced by many industries. Some of these solutions can seem a bit simple, like defining the right vocabulary, but without them, working together would be much more difficult. They might also specify the right way to measure and test something, so that we can be consistent in our methods. Or they may contain step-by-step guidance so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

When it comes to innovations, all this saves a lot of time and effort, which helps us to advance faster. But more importantly, standards make it easier for products to be compatible with existing technology, and to be introduced and accepted faster into new markets.

ISO – Great things happen when the world agrees.