As society continues to evolve, consumers are bombarded with new products and information; it is important that your product stands out from the crowd offering a specific Unique Selling Point (USP) and being recognisable as part of your brand.
Therefore, concept generation is a key factor in the design engineering process, helping to explore creative ideas that meet user needs while also being commercially viable.
By taking into account technical requirements as well as consumer considerations, this stage of product creation can result in a multitude of product concept designs.
What is concept generation?
Conficio Product Design considers Concept Generation to not only incorporate the process of crafting ideas (concepts) for the industrial design of a product but also to understand the critical electronic components and user interface. Starting with our customer’s requirements, our team will base our concepts on the theoretical minimum size of the electronic sub-system to provide a solution that is realisable. By working through the process as a team project risk is kept to a minimum.
How important is the concept generation process?
Product Design is a complex process and concept generation has an important role to play. It is important to begin the process with the needs and requirements of both internal and external clients. Without undertaking the concept generation process, a technical solution that is able to meet all of these requirements is difficult to achieve.
How to generate concepts for product design: 3 steps
The concept generation process can be broken down into three stages that combine to create Phase 1:
The first step of any project is to determine the requirements of the user and customer. Whilst reviewing this information, our team can start to identify areas of risk and opportunity that will support the concept generation stages. One of the key pieces of supporting documentation from an Industrial Design perspective is mood boards. These should detail what the client prefers but (almost more importantly) detail what designs the client is put off by.
The main aim of the discovery stage is to determine what information the client has already gained from their journey to date and to prompt them on what information we require to progress the concept.
There may be specific ISO standards that are required for the product. These will be identified and reviewed with the client to maximise the probability of conformance.
Building on the information gathered in the Discovery Stage, our electronics team and architect will start to determine critical components in the design. These choices will be led by critical requirements such as:
- Battery Lifetime
- Accuracy of sensing data
- User Interface
Once critical components have been selected, a realistic space envelope for the internal components can be defined. This will feed into the Industrial Design Concept Sketches. This process has been vital over the course of many projects and can be used to provide the client with options for the final design. During the Concept Stage, we will review the progress with the client to ensure that the design is progressing in the correct direction. This allows the design to be addressed early in the design process and expectations to be set correctly.
Now that you have multiple concepts for your product, it is time to hone in on the best ones. You can simulate a ’rounds’ system – first eliminating any concepts that look too similar or are out of scope. Keep narrowing down until only you have a small number of concepts that stand out from the rest – try to keep this at a maximum of five best concepts.
The final step in the Concept Generation Process (Phase 1) is to document the information that has been gathered and created during the first two stages. Our team will typically produce three documents for delivery to the client:
Product Design Specification (PDS)
This document outlines what the product is required to do. Each line item in this document should be verifiable at the end of the project (this does not apply to prototypes at the end of Phase 2, where a Gap Analysis is performed). Generally, the PDS will be split into sections that are specific to sections of the product, for example:
- User experience
- Communication Interfaces
- Power Requirements
It is critical that this document is understood by the client since this forms the basis of the estimate for Phase 2.
Architecture Design Document
This document details the electronic components that are going to allow the design to be realised. Based on this document, it will be possible to get an estimate of the production Bill of Materials for the electronics. This document may contain battery calculations and calculations that relate to specific sensors or calibrations that relate to the product.
Concept Generation Document
This document outlines the journey that the concept has taken documenting the research, initial ideation and concept development. It allows the client to look back and see how the concept has evolved which can help form part of the concept story when presenting the idea to potential investors. This document is also key to taking a snapshot of design decisions during the development stage prior to the full PDS being created.
These documents are the first documents that will be entered into the technical file for certification before the product launch.
What is next
Phase 1 is all about defining the concept that is to be developed during the Product Development Lifecycle. However, it has the added bonus that it allows our clients to build trust with Conficio without a large commitment. Once Phase 1 is completed, estimates for Phase 2 will be provided.
Work with us
We understand what is needed at every step of the concept generation process. From generating ideas to understanding existing solutions, we can help you conquer problems and turn ideas into a final concept for development.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about our product concept generation process and how we can help.