This section hints at some of the processes involved in product development process. No two development cycles are ever the same, there are no rules.
So.... you have an idea. First thing, punish it with Google, also try Google images and Google Patents, see what is already out there. You may find that your idea has already been done. Don't be defeated....this is good and bad. Bad if you wanted to patent the idea and either sell or license the patent. Good if you want to get in to the market place and compete in a product category that already exists. This means consumers are already familiar with the product category and your product will benefit from their marketing spend. Problem is, you now have competition.... which is a good thing, all you need now is an exceptional product.
Whats your strategy? - Business Model
Now you will need a basic strategy, but it is no good in your head. Write it down, this will help to focus the process, because it will need it! Some questions to ask yourself, what market will it satisfy? Why will they accept it, what else is available and what are the price points? How will it be marketed and distributed? Who will design it, test it and make it?What do you know about the controls and check and balances for these processes? What standards must it comply with?(SABS, CE and TUV?) And most of all, how much will it cost to get to a point where you make a return on your investment (ROI) of time and money, and If I don't have money what then? Even more reason to get it down on paper, as this will form the basis of a business plan which you will need to show investors AKA future business partners!
Does it work? - Proof of concept
We are getting ahead of our selves, you now need a proof of concept model, AKA experimental development models (EDM). The keywords here are fast and cheap, the goal is to get your idea to work. Become ingenious, this is a cut and paste process where anything goes. Cut up competitors products, investigate, canabalise, use bits and pieces from anything willing to donate. A word of caution, if marital and parental relations are to endure, hands off "stuff" from the house,(which includes toys). A word of extra caution, If you are going to buy toys for R&D, sneak them in the back door and dissect them in the middle of the night and dispose of the packaging well. Oh yes, don't work on the dining room table or in your Sunday best, hot glue guns and superglue are indispensable at this point for cobbling bits together, but can leave a nasty trail of destruction and verbal abuse. To get up to speed have a browse through Instructables for some great hacking ideas.
But seriously the above stage is the most critical in the whole process, EDM's are useful in developing “what if” scenarios, and are normally where additional novelty and innovation are leveraged. Sometimes EDM's can not be hacked, contact us and we will help or point you in the right direction. Once working, the EDM combined with your business plan will be useful tools when sourcing investment funding.
IP - Intellectual Property
After all the above, your idea is novel, works and you think it could have commercial value, but you can't tell me about your idea, because you can't trust me. My best advice is to speak to a patent attorney first.
Product Styling - Designing the beautiful object "the exciting part"
This is really quite a difficult part of the process, and normally depends on the clients vision (that's you) Styling is the physical embodiment of the look and feel of the product and should enhance usability and ergonomics. It should tell a story and be part of a larger brand strategy. All to often I get customers who arrive with their competitors product and say "something like this but not the same" Its called emulation and it works for some, but if you want to capture attention you need to strike out and be bold. Sure it will cost more to design and develop, but if you are going to the expense of tooling a product, why tool a bad one?
Below are some topic still to be covered..
Product engineering - Figuring out how to make your beautiful object "the challenging part"
3D CAD / Virtual Prototyping "the perfect world where it all fits together and works"
Value Engineering - Taking your beautiful object and stripping it down to reach a price point."demoralizing but essential"
3D Printing / Prototyping "the real world, aka practical reality"
Product documentation - Instructions to the manufacturer "how is your Chinese?"
Manufacture sourcing and liaison - Who makes it, where and the lucky soul who gets to harass them till it is made?