Extreme Consumers. How might we discover our next competitive advantage?

Future-proof Innovation | Proposition Development | Breakthrough Strategy | Innovation Teams

A breakthrough ice maker that consumers pledged $2.7million to build on indiegogo as part of GE’s FirstBuild Initiative


GE case study post it

The Challenge

General Electric (GE) faced the challenge of revitalizing the refrigerator industry, which had seen little innovation since the 1960s. To differentiate themselves and stay ahead of competitors, GE sought a breakthrough in their product offerings. They partnered with Sense Worldwide to redefine the future of refrigeration.


Our Approach

To achieve radical innovation, GE’s design team went beyond conventional methods like focus groups. They collaborated with The Sense Network, a diverse group of individuals with unique perspectives and expertise. GE’s designers engaged these extreme users, including a renowned cocktail mixologist who sourced ice from arctic lakes, a water sommelier specializing in water tasting, and a culinary scientist experimenting with 3D-printed food.

One collaborator was the chef de cuisine at The Aviary in Chicago. He had strong opinions about ice, criticizing domestic freezers that produced “terrible little uniform cubes.” He advocated for crystal-clear ice and discovered a solution: using a vibrator to shake out air bubbles as the water froze.

Alongside these extreme users, GE’s team co-created a wide range of product ideas, from futuristic gadgets to next-generation refrigerator models.

Opal Ice Maker

The Result

The collaboration led to the launch of ‘The Opal Nugget Ice Maker’. This groundbreaking product garnered positive reviews for its ability to produce large quantities of chewable ice on demand. Consumers embraced it enthusiastically, pledging $2.7 million on Indiegogo, making it one of the platform’s top 10 projects. Building on this success, GE released an upgraded version, ‘Opal Nugget Ice Maker 2.0,’ which received even better reviews and solidified the brand’s reputation as an innovator.


It makes perfect ice.

John R. Delaney, PCMag


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