6 Steps To Create A Smart Device From An Idea To Prototype
Smart devices are an essential part of a new digitalised industry that has been forming in the past decade. The radical transformation affects all the traditional production processes without exception. Virtual prototyping, machine learning, and flexible manufacturing gave birth to a completely new generation of gadgets. Due to their core features — customisation and connectivity — they deliver to customers more deep and interactive experience of life.
Most entrepreneurs, inventors, and fabricants who wish to be a part of innovative shifts realize this critical point of actual economic reality pretty well. And if you’re one of them, no matter what kind of smart device — home appliance or wearable stuff — you are about to launch you highly likely need to have a proper plan of your product development process.
Frankly, there are so many brilliant ideas in the world that end with nothing. Why so? Many factors. But we believe that a clear adjusted step-by-step plan can raise your productivity and help you to create a truly valuable device. After all, only a successful product makes your enterprise successful. But get ready for a long journey with unexpected obstacles. To cover a big distance easier just divide it into smaller pieces. MVP (minimum viable product) also known as a prototype can be a good primary destination when you create a really adorable smart device. Below there are the 6 most important steps you should take to reach your first real milestone in product developing:
Step 1: Concept Generation
Maybe you are born to be an inventor, maybe not but coming with an idea for a smart product is, first of all, about filling the gap in emotions and practices people go through in their everyday life. Your global challenge is to detect a critical point and focus on finding the most effective solutions on it. Yes, you should think about multiple alternatives for your product and examine consumer needs from different sides. Handle the truth, not all of your ideas will work, some of them will definitely fail. So it is always good to have plan B.
At this stage, it is also quite useful to think just in general terms about technical implementation for your product. What kind of hardware you may need? What firmware will fit the best? What about software for your device? The answers to these questions you should keep in your mind at least as a blueprint.
Step 2: User Modeling
Make sure that you know your target audience. Who is going to purchase what you are going to produce? Visualize your potential customers in detail. Sort people into groups according to categories that can be crucial for your product, for instance, age, gender, socio-economic status, level of education, political preferences, whatever. After that work on specific user scenarios for each group. It is an important step as it helps to investigate the possible value of your smart device for real people.
Step 3: Market Research
If we say that your product is a piece of content then the market you want to enter is a context — a certain economic environment in which your product is about to appear. To be a good player you should know the rest players on the field. Identify your competitors. What are their features, prices, design, and business models?
Make deep internal and external SWOT analyses, explore current marketing trends. Try to distance from direct competition. If you find an analog of your product, look for a specific niche where you can integrate your own one or think about a different product positioning.
Step 4: Sketch Up
At this stage, you clarify your ideas via sketching them up. Simple visualization helps to fix weak sides and evolve the concept. Open your mind as wide as you can. Experiment, imagine, dream, invent. It is the time when you should cross your inner scope. Do not worry, it is absolutely normal if your sketches are quite general, ugly and sometimes stupid. There definitely are some really fresh and innovative ideas among them. When you get enough pieces, select several best variants and go on with the next step.
Step 5: Design Matters
Never underestimate the importance of product design. Modern users are very sensitive to composition, colors, forms, materials, and inner logic of their experience. And they expect that today smart devices and home appliances should be even more smooth and perfect in terms of aesthetics and usability than ever before. So do not neglect what your product looks like. Think both about its physical appearance and user interface. After all, design is intelligence made visible.
Step 6: Workable Prototype
Prototypes can be quite different depending on their final purpose in your product development process. Usually, they are divided into three categories — visual, proof-of-concept, and presentation. Since technical solutions are extremely important for smart gadgets you cannot just roll out a visual prototype. No matter what smart stuff you have created the most valuable parts of your minimum viable product are hardware, firmware, and software. This is the core of your invention. Only if you are pretty confident with this part of your device, you can start testing and marketing.
Still Long Way Ahead
When you finalize the MVP stage, the story does not end. You still have a lot to do to start getting stable returns. But a workable prototype is the first peak on your way to success where you can stay for a moment, look around and realize that it was all for something greater.