From The Economist:
Last November, engineers in the healthcare division of General Electric (GE) unveiled something called the “LightSpeed VCT”, a scanner that can create a startlingly good three-dimensional image of a beating heart. This spring Staples, an American office-supplies retailer, will stock its shelves with a gadget called a “wordlock”, a padlock that uses words instead of numbers. In Munich, meanwhile, engineers at BMW have begun prototyping telematics (combining computing and telecoms) and online services for a new generation of luxury cars. The connection? In each case, the firm’s customers have played a big part (GE, BMW) or the leading role (Staples) in designing the product.