He designed flying machines inspired by bats and birds, a diving suit and and even one of the world's first humanoid robots, which looked like a... knight. Powered by a system of pulleys and cables, this "Mechanical Knight" could sit down, wave his arms and open his jaw to emit sounds.

Leonardo da Vinci is the inventor par excellence: so why not allude to his fantastic aura in an article devoted to innovation? Especially since he has another essential characteristic: versatility. The Italian was at the same time a scientist, engineer, anatomist, painter, sculptor, musician, architect, botanist, poet, philosopher, writer...

Thus, even if the verb did not yet exist in the 15th century, some people had already understood that to innovate, it is necessary to… disrupt. This is the advice of Jean-François Gaudy, Chief Innovation Officer at Gfi Informatique. “I believe that companies are now aware of the foundations required for innovation to flourish; they have begun to rethink their internal organisation, adopt measurement indicators and structure their Open Innovation initiatives. However, in order to get down to practical matters, the subjects that emerge always tend to be put into silos: a Big Data project here, an IoT project there… These silos can correspond to each of the Business activities or to each new technological evolution that the company decides to try out. In any case, they constitute a natural brake on innovation: they reduce its scope, or even stifle it completely.”

In order to create value, it is therefore a priority to bring all disciplines together: “We can see this clearly with autonomous cars," continues Jean-François Gaudy. “They combine a significant number of technologies and expertise. I also draw the attention of my clients to the importance of capturing: capturing useful data to develop attractive and functional products and services. It is necessary to capture data that is both sufficient in volume and sufficiently qualified to have raw material that can feed innovation.”

This data capture is used in the broadest sense: therefore, is an image considered to be data?  Images play an increasingly important role in our lives. Last May, the reporter Xavier de La Porte (France Culture) quoted a journalist from the New York Times, Farhad Manjoo: “The early days of IT and the Internet”, wrote Manjoo, “only served to increase the supremacy of text to communicate over long distances and over time: blogs, emails, tweets, statuses and comments, we have all set about producing text, as the continuation of a long history. Then came cameras in telephones and the connection of these phones to the Internet. At first, and as we can see on Facebook and Instagram, it didn't change much, we just took more photos. However, the appearance of Snapchat has brought about a major change, which is the use of photographs for communication purposes (the "social" photo, as André Gunthert calls it) and the possibility of adding another dimension to communication in addition to the text. Of all the things that it changes and that can be criticised (more emotional, more entertaining, less reflexive communication...)”, according to Manjoo, “the most important is how this affects language, because increasingly in our digital communications we are speaking with images.”

An image is data, therefore, it is just like the choice of one word rather than another, the frequency of a customer's calls, a speech rate that suddenly accelerates... and even a silence. The Humanities and Social Sciences are called upon to reinforce artificial intelligence: linguistics, sociology, semiology... And vice versa: "Automation and modelling now allow linguists to analyse large quantities of text or conversations, thanks to Machine Learning", points out Jean-François Gaudy.

Innovating, to progress: this is exactly what a major Parisian hospital is doing, in collaboration with Stanislas Larroque, founder of the start-up that markets the PARA helmet. Gfi Informatique is one of the investors, as is a former Rafale test pilot general.

The young entrepreneur developed "the first French augmented reality helmet" in an ambitious approach: to differentiate it from Microsoft's famous Hololens. His helmet, patented in January 2017, had already caught the attention of the army. It is also being tested by a surgeon for open-heart surgery, with a view to producing qualitative training material for his students.

“Keeping a constant eye on this type of project makes it possible to open new doors, take advantage of each opportunity and create meaning. Stanislas' helmet, for example, is of interest to the Gimélec (association of electrical equipment, control-command and associated service industries): we work together on issues related to BIM Exploitation (Building Information Modelling), or in other words, on smoother and more efficient building maintenance, thanks to this type of tool.”

Innovation is firing on all cylinders: but we still need to give it enough fuel!


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