“What if it wasn’t symmetrical?”

Asymmetry: Going from symmetrical to asymmetrical.


The Nissan Cube with its rear window only wrapping around one side of the vehicle, and the Hyundai Veloster with its one door on the driver’s side and two on the other, are examples of imaginative application of asymmetry to a product that is normally very symmetrical.

Some sportier cars (read cramped) will have steering wheels with a flat bottom (asymmetrical along the horizontal axis) to improve leg room.

Many high performance tires have a tread optimized to roll in one direction, with tread blocks that expel water, snow and debris better forward than backward. This complicates tire rotation strategies, but provides greater traction.


Most regions rely on asymmetrical electrical plugs to prevent inadvertent connection in unsafe orientation, e.g. North American two-prong plugs have one larger prong.

More symmetry

The inventor of the USB was laid to rest recently. His coffin was lowered into the grave, removed and lowered back in the correct orientation. Okay, old joke, but it highlights the reason the Apple lightning port is an improvement over USB – it can be inserted either way.

In the 1980s GM cars had their keys go in teeth down, whereas Ford cars had their keys go in teeth up. Later they began making keys with teeth on both sides, so the operator never put the key in the wrong way.

More examples

As I stumble across real world examples of this Inventive Principle in action I add them here.

Your turn

What problems do you face that this inventive principle could help solve? Have you used this principle before?