Posted on Sep 9, 2009



In my passion for innovation, I’ve found myself in the position of leading product brainstorms both at work and here at ProtoDojo. During my research for brainstorm facilitation tools, I came across a simple concept called random stimulus. It is straight forward and simple to use during any creative thought process. When confronted with a mental block, simply pull up a random word or image and begin by thinking of how this stimulus relates to your core idea. What happens is in the process of discussing the relationship between the original idea and the stimulus, you will often find yourself exploring new avenues or new aspects of your original problem. It’s extremely powerful and fun during the various phases of product ideation.

SparkStorm uses the endless user generated content of the internet to quickly provide random stimulus to anyone in need of inspiration. It works by finding a related word using an online thesaurus (purposefully hiding the relationship) and then searches flickr for photos with the related word as a tag. There are two ways to use SparkStorm: 1. (Random) A common noun will be randomly chosen as the original word. 2. (Root Word) You can enter a root word for the system to base the inspiration on. In either method the system uses an algorithm to produce related results that seem to be random.

My goal for releasing this application is to help anyone in need of some inspiration. I’ve used SparkStorm successfully in several brainstorms at work and I hope it helps you as much as it has for me. I welcome feedback and can’t wait to hear what wacky ideas you think of next!

Go to Sparkstorm!