“Why isn’t it 3 dimensional?”

Another Dimension: Consider all axes of the object for potential improvement.

“He is intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two dimensional thinking.”

Spock, from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan

“A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I’m afraid of widths.”

Steven Wright


Examples include the coiled telephone wire, which can be both be long when extended and short when retracted, thanks to coiling along its long axis, occupying another dimension.

Light bulb filament is coiled to maximize the length of it while keeping its packaging compact.

A spiral staircase can occupy less floor area than a rectilinear staircase.

Rotate horizontally

The Honda Ridgeline pickup pictured above uses a double-hinged tailgate, first introduced by Ford on their wagons in 1966. Applied to a pickup, the tailgate can be swung down to protect the bumper when heavy, dirty loads like soil or stones are loaded. The tailgate can also be swung out, allowing easy loading and unloading without bending over the tailgate.

Add height or layers

Increase density of land use by adding storeys to car parks, office buildings, and apartment complexes.

Elon Musk describing the merits of creating tunnels to avoid traffic congestion:

The deepest mines are much deeper than the tallest buildings are tall, so you can alleviate any arbitrary level of open congestion with a 3D tunnel network.

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?