In the last article, we described the Product Design Process, which helps you move from a product concept to a physical product. However, physical prototypes may not always be a feasible or practical solution for product testing and evaluation purposes.

For example, think of a new condo development. While a miniature version of the condo might add a nice touch to the showroom, it is not practical when it comes to properly testing load or wind requirements. Nor is it helpful in exploring the inner workings of the building.

Another obvious example is when designing a virtual product, such as software. In this case, physical prototypes cannot be created; however, it is still essential for something to be created in which testing can occur.

In these instances, it is more advantageous to rely on the many innovations that now exist in virtual prototyping.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types that are available and used today:

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is the most immersive form of virtual prototyping. It allows you to fully control the product and its given environment, eliminating all unwanted variables, and providing you with an experience that mimics real-life. With the explosion of games leveraging this type technology, and platforms such as Oculus, it’s far more cost-efficient than it was in the past – when actual VR headsets and programmers were hard to come by.

This innovation is particularly useful for large products that might otherwise be very costly to build to full-scale, or impractical to build a small model of, such as the condo development example mentioned above. One could use VR to give stakeholders the opportunity to ‘step into’ the condo without them ever having to leave their seat.

VR can also be handy when trying to develop a product that contains a lot of mechanical movements in which the exact technical specs are still uncertain. Instead of having to work through numerous physical prototypes, one could iterate quickly by altering the virtual specifications within the VR program.

Augmented Reality

Image result for google maps AR

Image: Wall Street Journal

Augmented Reality is very similar to Virtual Reality, with the difference being that AR overlaps the virtual world with the physical world.

For example, Google Maps now has a feature that allows users to use their phone to overlay walking directions overtop their actual environment.

This mixed medium is especially helpful when prototyping for products that face physical constraints in the real-world, or where it may be necessary to have relative positioning with physical objects.

Another example of how this technology is being used is with Aegis Software, a global provider of Manufacturing Execution Software, whose latest product allows human operators to wear a pair of glasses that allows them to scan barcodes, view assembly instructions, and verifies when certain tasks are completed successfully. It is very similar to a ‘heads-up’ display that is integrated into many cars today.

As you can see technology has come a long way since the days of dial-up modems, and there’s really no saying how far it will take us. At Dena Technologies we strive to remain on-top of innovation so that we can help you work alongside it, rather than be overtaken by it.

In the next article, we’ll start to focus on things to consider when it comes to actual products you may be looking develop, such as changes in consumer buying behaviours, advancements in technology, and important elements now available in PCB manufacturing.

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