Which Type of Prototype Do I Need?

Updated: Jul 5, 2020

Nowadays there's many prototypes out there that make things a bit more complicated. When it comes to planning out your product design project the question is "which type of prototype do I need?." There's proof of concept prototypes (POC), functional prototypes, modular prototypes, appearance prototypes, software prototypes, final prototypes, rapid prototypes, et cetera. Some places list 12-22 different types of prototypes, making the search for the right design approach very complicated.

But there's good news: ISS fuses prototypes together to give you a better investments with a higher learning value. Let's say you start with a POC prototype. A POC prototype is defined as:

"is a small exercise to test the design idea or assumption. The main purpose of developing a POC is to demonstrate the functionality and to verify a certain concept or theory that can be achieved in development." 

But even with a proof of concept prototype, you can also prototype appearance as well. Plus you could make it modular, and link it's function to software. This scholastic view that you need a prototype for each thing you are trying to do is inflating your prices unnecessarily. And it's holding you back from unleashing your full potential in prototyping. With combining different prototypes and methodology there can be breakthroughs in designs that can lead to a novel design!

Finally, it's important to be persistent and steadfast in prototyping work. Prototyping is an iterative process meaning, it's a repetitive process. It's also a process of "trial and error" until the right combination of techniques, materials, prototypes, and functionality create a mature product. For example, the Wright Brothers didn't invent an jumbo jet on their first attempt to fly. They had several prototypes that were used to evolve the concept of human flight as we know it today.

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