4 Accidental Discoveries that became Innovations

Looking for inspiration to innovate new products? Read our blog to explore some of the biggest accidental discoveries that surprisingly gave birth to great innovations!

What’s your immediate reaction when you hear the word ‘accident’? It is very likely that you will think of something negative. Mistakes or accidents in the labs can cost R&D teams a fortune. But, not all accidents are bad. Sometimes, researchers get lucky and accidentally discover things that lead to great innovations that change the world! Let’s explore four of such accidental discoveries that gave rise to breakthrough innovations!

Top 4 Accidental Discoveries Turning into Great Innovations

1. Pacemaker

Today, billions of patients suffering from heart ailments owe their lives to pacemakers. But, did you know it was originally supposed to be a heart rhythm recording device? American engineer and inventor Wilson Greatbatch, who was working on this project, mistakenly removed the wrong resistor out of the box and used it to complete the circuit.

He then noticed that his device started emitting electrical pulses that are similar to heartbeats. And that is how Greatbatch ended up inventing a device that mimics heartbeat instead of recording the same.

2. Penicillin

We cannot imagine a world without antibiotics, right? If we trace its invention, it is again another accidental discovery! Little did Scottish physician Alexander Fleming know on returning from his two-week-long vacation that he would make a discovery that would change medical science forever, and also win him the Nobel Prize!

An accidentally contaminated Staphylococcus culture plate started developing mold. When Fleming examined the mold, he found out that it actually prevented the growth of bacteria around it. This mold, which was a rare strain of Penicillium notatum, led to the invention of the first broadly effective antibiotic substance, penicillin.

3. Microwave

Almost every household today has a microwave oven at their home. It has become one of the most essential electrical appliances. How else can we heat up last night’s pizza without any hassle? But its origin lies in a project to develop energy sources for radar equipment.

While testing a new vacuum tube, American physicist, Percy Spencer, noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket had melted from the heat. He then experimented with the tube by observing its effect on corn kernels, which took no time to turn into popcorn! The discovery of this microwave radiation evolved into what we today call — a microwave oven.

4. Corn Flakes

After speaking about microwave ovens, how can we not mention food? Let’s look at the story behind the discovery of one of the most popular breakfasts today — corn flakes. Kellog brothers, Dr. John Harvey Kellog and Will Keith Kellog were developing a new recipe for the vegan patients of Battle Creek Sanitarium.

In the process, Will mistakenly left a wheat-berry dough overnight. The next morning, instead of throwing it away, the brothers decided to make wheat sheets using rollers. To their surprise, they got delicate flakes, which could be baked and served to the patients. This preparation was initially named Granose. Eventually, the duo experimented with other grains and finalized on corn, and hence, Kellog’s Corn Flakes!

Now, let’s hear from you — apart from the ones listed above, can you think of any other accidental discoveries that turned into great innovations? Moreover, has your innovation team ever discovered something unintentionally that later proved to be a successful innovation? Get in touch & let us know!

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