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Invention and innovation: An introduction
Invention and innovation: An introduction

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18.2.2 Compatibility

An innovation that is compatible with the experiences, values and needs of its potential buyers will be adopted more rapidly than one that isn't compatible. For example mobile phones have spread rapidly because they are compatible with social and cultural trends towards faster communications, increased personal mobility and the desirability of high-tech gadgets. However the car seat belt, patented in 1903, wasn't adopted on any significant scale until the 1970s (Figure 70). It took decades of increasing traffic and growing casualties in road accidents for safety to become a pressing concern, government to pass legislation and the seat belt to become a newly compatible innovation.

Figure 70
Figure 70 Motor magazine in 1960 advertises the car seat belt (Source: John Frost Historical Newspaper Service)