Here is some terminology to help you become familiar with the process of product development
Association of Chartered Industrial Designers of Ontario (ACIDO)
The Association of Chartered Industrial Designers of Ontario (ACIDO) is an association of accredited Ontario Industrial Designers, formed to develop and promote the Industrial Design profession within the province (seehttp://www.ACIDO.info). The Industrial Designers at SPARK are accredited members of ACIDO and offer our client’s the benefits of decades of credible, professional, and award winning product design experience in the areas of consumer, industrial, medical, military, personal protective equipment, sporting goods, telecommunications and transportation product design.
Brainstorming is a classic technique for generating a large quantity of ideas and solutions in a relatively short period of time. This creative activity is held in a group setting during which the participants are asked to articulate their thoughts and share their insights with each other.
The mantra that “no idea is a poor idea” inspires uninhibited thought and self-expression in this non-critical and energetic exercise. Therefore, even the most immature or seemingly silly of ideas are encouraged to be shared within the group as they often fuel the thoughts of others. The solutions that arise through the momentum of this activity are later evaluated for merit, relevance, and appropriateness in a separate exercise. Creative brainstorming is often one of the first steps in the iterative process of developing an appropriate design. The professionals at SPARK are well schooled in this technique.
A business plan is a thoughtful scheme that has been contrived to ensure the successful delivery of goods and/or services designed to arrive on time, on budget, and to the satisfaction of both the business owner and the customer base. Additional considerations must be accounted for when conceiving a business plan for an entrepreneurial venture based upon the design/development, manufacturing and marketing of ideas for new or improved products, SPARK has the expertise and experience to guide aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs through the evaluation and planning process to ensure profitability in current and future markets.
Computer-Aided Design is the use of digital technology in the design, development and documentation of product designs. Complementary computer hardware and software platforms allow design data to be shared seamlessly across the network and around the globe for evaluation with designers, engineers, clients, end-users and manufacturers alike. Industry standard computer software packages range from 2D vector-based Illustration and Drafting software, to even more complex 3D Surface Modeling and 3D Solid Modeling software. On behalf of our clients, Spark Innovations Inc. uses a variety of leading edge software programs to visualize product concepts, to fabricate concept models, to evaluate product efficiencies and to engineer product designs for manufacture. These include Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, SOLIDWORKS, PRO/Engineer, and CATIA.
Innovations in the communications network, in computer software, and in computer controlled machinery have reduced manufacturing times; permitting prototypes to be fashioned and finished products to be manufactured seemingly overnight and often at great distances in the global marketplace. Over the years, SPARK has forged strategic alliances with international development partners to help you bring competitive products to market on time and to budget.
Our environment is perceived through five senses which influence how and when we interact with the animals, the objects, and the events we encounter. Colour vision is perhaps our most acute sense. Colour is known to influence our moods and behaviours. A colour study is a comparative exercise during which interested parties are shown subjects, objects or environments rendered in a variety of colour options as a method of determining market preferences. At SPARK, colour studies are developed in order to elicit feedback that will help determine the most favourable or appropriate colour schemes for products under development and for particularly defined markets.
Concept design refers to both that phase in the product development cycle during which multiple ideas for products are formalized for socialization and evaluation; as well as to the definitive idea that has been approved by the client for engineering development, documentation and mass production. The inspired minds at SPARK create credible ideas that are later morphed and honed into a single viable design with the active participation of our satisfied clients.
Concept development is the process of generating ideas that lead to solutions that resolve well defined problems through the manifestation of designs. At SPARK, concept development is an iterative process of generating ideas, evaluating ideas, developing concepts, refining concepts through feedback, designing concept models, testing functional prototypes, and evaluating designs for function, for use, for compliance with industry standards, for manufacture, and for market acceptance.
Concept generation is the purposeful act of conceiving and documenting alternative design proposals to a well defined problem that has provided the impetus for product development. The proposals for new product designs attempt to resolve the challenge that the problem has provided. At SPARK, we conceive ideas, build upon your ideas, merge ideas, and evolve ideas into viable product concepts that provide robust solutions to the needs of the end-user, the client, and the manufacturer.
Designing for Off-shore Manufacturing
In today’s competitive business market, it is often in our clients best financial interests to pursue manufacturing off-shore. Emerging countries such as India and China are renowned and respected for delivering cost effective and quality electronics for the telecommunications industry, cost effective and quality plastic enclosure systems for communications and medical products; and cost effective and quality house wares and sporting goods. Qualified off-shore manufacturers respect International Standards Organization practices and pertinent industry regulations. The principals at SPARK have years of collective experience in negotiating productive and profitable business arrangements with off-shore manufacturers.
Design for Manufacture and Assembly
Design for Manufacture and Assembly is one of the final steps in the product development cycle during which mechanical design engineers assume responsibility for the concept design and then go on to design in detail all of the relevant component parts for mass production. At SPARK, our mechanical designers team closely with our industrial designers throughout the product concept phase so that they can efficiently design and/or document mechanical parts and assemblies with due consideration to end-user needs, ergonomics, aesthetics, materials, manufacturing processes, fit and finish, assembly processes, and finally, packaging, shipping and handling.
Engineering development refers to the professional activity of refining a concept design and documenting it in CAD so that it can be transferred to manufacturing facilities for mass production. At SPARK, our mechanical designers have years of engineering experience in consumer, industrial, medical, protective equipment, sporting goods, military and transportation product design.
In the context of design, investigative research is the exploration and study of any subject matter directly related to the impending development of a given product. Any study might embrace research into one or all of (a) product functionality, including users and environments; (b) human perception, behavior and interaction; (c) materials; (d) manufacturing processes; (e) regulatory standards and testing; and (f) intellectual property. SPARK conducts investigative research in order to define and design functional and innovative products with consumer appeal.
Competative Product Analysis
Competitive Product Analysis entails searching for existing products in the marketplace that provide functionality identical or similar to that which will be offered by the proposed product under development; and then evaluating each in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses in these designs. SPARK uses competitive product analysis to glean opportunities for improvement, innovation, and intellectual property protection on behalf of our clients.
Attribute analysis is the process of selectively and progressively studying the features of a product and demonstrating a multitude of potential ways that they might be designed with the goal of having a User Group
Design for End-user Needs
Designing for end-user needs is an approach to product development wherein the design team intimately explores the relationship between human needs and wants; and the form and function of the product. SPARK typically designs for end user needs in order to develop products and interfaces that are intuitive to understand, comfortable to handle, simple to learn, easy to use, and therefore compelling to own.
Ergonomic Product Design
Ergonomic design refers to the specific practice of developing objects and spaces to be ergonomically appropriate for the user. The human form and natural motions of the human body are primary drivers of ergonomic design. Typical goals of ergonomic design include comfort, reducing the number of steps needed for different tasks, creating intuitive interfaces, and other factors that make using products a more pleasant experience.
The term ‘ergonomic styling’ is mistakenly interchanged with ‘ergonomic design’. In fact, ergonomic styling is just a shortcut that some product developers use to skip the step of true ergonomic design. A product that has been ergonomically styled may look ergonomically appropriate, yet may still be uncomfortable to hold or difficult to use; this is because anthropomorphic studies and human factors analysis have not been conducted to determine appropriate ergonomic form for the product.
Ergonomics is the science of creating products, spaces, and experiences to fit the natural tendencies of the user, rather than forcing the user to conform to the created product, space or experience. Ergonomics is often a critical component to successful product design. A consumer will often perceive a more comfortable product as having more value. Ergonomically appropriate products can help to build brand loyalty.
First party/second party non-disclosure Form
Use when you wish to supply information to a company without comment from that company re merits or details. The Second Party agrees not to make use, for its own benefit or otherwise, any portion or all of the Proprietary Information without the prior consent of the First Party.
Focus groups are a common tool used for market research. A focus group usually consists of a small group of people within the target market of the concept being tested. A facilitator guides the group through discussion or interaction with the concept. These events can be very valuable because of the outside opinions they provide, and because of the ability to use the session to evaluate the group’s emotional responses to the products or experiences being tested. Focus groups can be used to compare a variety of concepts prior to production, for getting insight into the color scheme preferences of the target market, and for answering any number of other questions involving the target market’s response.
Form Follows Function
First coined by the American architect, Louis Sullivan, at the end of the nineteenth century, the phrase “form follows function” has become a mantra for many product designers. The basic meaning of the phrase is that the appearance, shape, and method of use of the object (the form) should naturally be derived from the intended purpose (function) of the object. Thus, a chair should look like, work like, and feel like something a person is to sit in.
Front End Research
Front End Research is a collection of methods including observational research, opportunity analysis, and other techniques designed to get into the mind of the consumer. Front End Research occurs before the innovation and product development process. The purpose of this type of research is to identify which problems to solve.
Industrial design is the professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, use, appearance, and value of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both the user and the manufacturer. The discipline of Industrial design helps to bridge the gap between the needs of product users and the needs of product makers through creative thought and collaboration. At SPARK, it is the responsibility of the industrial designer to assess the needs and desires of the consumer and to translate them into viable designs for products that can be effectively engineered and efficiently manufactured.
Industrial Design Intent
Industrial design intent is the term used to describe the documentation and/or the artifacts that the industrial designer “hands-off” to the mechanical designer after the CONCEPT DESIGN has been approved by the client and is then ready to be engineered for manufacture. At SPARK, industrial design intent can take the form of any or all of the following visual material preliminary CAD Geometry, two dimensional documentation drawings, product renderings, product models and prototypes.
Thomas Alva Edison once said that genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration. The same can be said about innovation, or the art and science of making things better by using creativity and reason. At SPARK, we work hard to bring the credible ideas of our clients to market as distinctive, functional, user-friendly, and patent protected products.
Intellectual Property (IP)
Intellectual property (IP) is a legal field that refers to creations of the mind such as inventions; names, images, and designs used in commerce, including copyrights, trademarks, patents, and related rights. Under intellectual property law, the holder of one of these abstract “properties” has certain exclusive rights to the invention which is covered by it.
An invention is an object, process, or technique which displays an element of novelty. People naturally invent. We are always looking for better ways to do things. Invention is about making things better.
A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to an inventor or his assignee for a fixed period of time in exchange for a disclosure of an invention.
A design patent is a patent granted on the ornamental design of a functional item. Design patents are a type of industrial design right. Ornamental designs of the external look and styling of a product is an example of what can be protected with design patents.
A patent attorney is an attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents and acting in all matters and procedures relating to patent law and practice, such as filing an opposition.
Utility patents protect the structure and function of the invention defined by the claims of the patent.
Design is the act of creating a plan for something. Within the realm of product development, design is the process of converting a product need into plans for a manufacture-ready product. Design in this sense can be subdivided into a number of other fields including primarily industrial design and design engineering. Additional sub-categories include package design, interface design, design for manufacture, ergonomic design, and numerous other specialties. For a product to be successful, the design of that product usually should include industrial design (which focuses on the user aspects of the product including form, aesthetics, consumer appeal, ergonomics, etc.) and design engineering (which focuses on the function and manufacturability aspects of the product).
The process of converting product ideas into viable products is called Product Development. Successful Product Development requires a balance of soft requirements (how does it look and feel) with hard requirements (specifically, how a product works). The Product Development process often starts with identifying a market need or want. The list of needs is often converted into viable concepts that meet that market need. Concepts are converted into prototypes and renderings. An established company’s Product Development process often has key milestones or gates at each stage of Product Development.
Product Development Plan
A product development plan explains how you are going to develop a product to meet a market need. A Product Development Plan is an essential part of a business plan. It includes how you will design, prototype, manufacture, and test a product to ensure that it meets the market requirements. The product development plan will also estimate the costs for development and the estimated production costs.
A product launch is pursued to convert product ideas into viable products. Successful Product Launches requires require marketing/sales, product development, and appropriate funding. During a Product Launch, concepts are converted into prototypes and renderings, then they are validated against market requirements to ensure that the correct product hits the market at the correct price.
Product Launch Plan
A product launch plan explains how you are going to launch a product to meet a market need. A Product Launch Plan is an essential part of a business plan. It includes how you will design, prototype, manufacture, and test a product to ensure that it meets the market requirements. Product launch plans typically include consumer testing such as focus groups to ensure that product features and pricing align with market demand. The product launch plan will also estimate the costs for development and the estimated production costs.
Product licensing is just one of the ways an inventor/entrepreneur can generate revenue from an idea or patent protected invention. Licensing an invention typically involves a contract between a manufacturer and an inventor where the manufacturer agrees to assume the burden of designing and manufacturing the previously protected invention while paying a royalty percentage to the inventor for every product sold. Product licensing is typically pursued when the inventor has neither the time nor the resources to contract out a product development initiative; yet still wishes to profit from the design, manufacture and marketing of the invention. At SPARK, we embrace all business opportunities and are prepared to assist our clients in bringing their ideas to fruition and market by the means which makes the most economic sense for all parties.
PRODUCT SEMANTICS is the field of interpretation of the meaning of the form and detailing of a product. A product demonstrating strong semantics is one that effectively communicates its function, how it operates, and how it is to be interacted with. At SPARK, we believe it makes good sense and better cents to design visually appealing and highly functional products that are intuitively understood by end-users and therefore highly sought after in the market.
Models and Prototypes
1) Sketch Model
The sketch model is a three dimensional representation of an idea that has been rapidly constructed in order to help the designer express an idea, visualize a problem to be solved, or to convey ideas and problems to other interested parties. Sketch models typically represent shapes, volumes, sizes and arrangements of features with respect to ergonomic, usability, and access concerns. Sketch models are typically crude and may be fashioned from papers, plastics, and woods that are easily and rapidly formed using simple tools, fasteners and adhesives. At SPARK, sketch models are used as mediums to explore problems and as tangible physical explorations of ideas that lead to further thought, development and creative inspiration.
2) Proof of Concept Model
The proof –of-concept model is constructed to demonstrate and evaluate identified features of a product concept in a rapid, economical and rugged fashion. This model may be fashioned from found materials. The proof-of-concept model is intended to be interacted with. The results of interaction with the proof-of–concept model allow an idea to be either accepted or rejected. For example, this model may be constructed to gauge (a) the appropriateness of the size and shape of an ergonomically designed finger well that permits access to a recessed locking latch; (b) the comfort of the form of a new handle for an equipment carrying case; or (c) the function and behavior of the proposed design for a new woven pocket for a lacrosse stick. At SPARK, proof-of-concept models allow the design team to propose with confidence credible and often innovative solutions for rapid development and refinement.
3) Appearance Model
The appearance model is a static physical representation of what either a product concept, or an approved product design will look like, down to the last exacting detail. Appearance models are typically used to demonstrate and or evaluate product architecture, product form and product features including but not limited to colour; surface finish; visual interfaces including screens and interaction keys; connector ports, connectors and cables; labels, and insignias. The appearance model does not demonstrate articulating parts or mechanisms and should not function in any way. The appearance model can be fabricated from fixed conglomerations of actual manufactured parts, of simulated parts, or any combination thereof. Therefore, the appearance model is typically fragile. It should never be physically interacted with, and it should be protected from incidental and accidental contact.. At Spark, appearance models are typically fashioned to communicate product concepts, to test and evaluate end-user reaction to product concepts, and to provide pre-production facsimile products to be photographed for marketing collateral.
4) Verification Prototype
The verification prototype may represent a product design in its entirety; or simply, parts thereof. It is fabricated to test some significant feature of the proposed product design pre-finalization and manufacture. Typical testing procedures might be ordained for (a) function (a prototype for a lacrosse stick head); (b) integrity (the ballistic testing of a composite military helmet shell); (c) strength ( the impact testing of hockey shin guards); (d) efficiency (the thermal testing of air flow through a fascia grill work pattern); and/or (e) regulatory compliance (the electromagnetic immunity testing of the enclosure system for an electronic communications product); amongst other concerns. AT SPARK, verification modeling is conducted in order to provide our clients with credible designs that address both end-user and industry concerns.
5) Functional Prototype
The functional prototype is either a one-off item, or a limited pre-production run of product that reflects in almost every aspect the final design of a product with an imminent deadline for manufacture. It is intended to demonstrate mechanical functionality, electronic functionality, and styling to clients, customers and manufacturers. The functional prototype is often used by clients as a marketing tool to advance per-production sales. Evaluation of the functional prototype may lead to product refinement in the interests of the end-user, of the manufacturer, and of the client. In many cases, it is the final step in the development process before design geometry is released to the factory for mass production. At SPARK, functional prototypes are built to mitigate the risk of product development by providing a tool to evaluate mechanical and electronic functionality, interaction at the man-machine interface, product styling, customer feedback, and manufacturing concerns.
Quote Level Engineering
Product development is an iterative process of design that nonetheless follows a pre-defined schedule to permit the delivery of product on time and to budget. Quote Level Engineering is reflective of the state of the design and the engineering documentation for any approved product design. At SPARK, quote level engineering represents that point in the design development schedule where the documentation is sufficiently detailed to allow prospective manufacturers to begin providing quotations for evaluation. This level of product development typically includes preliminary 2D drawings or 3D geometry and materials. The normal process of instituting revisions to the original design documentation as the design matures does not usually result in drastic changes to the price of quotations.
Reciprical Non-Disclosure Form
The reciprocal non-disclosure form is used when you wish to have a two-way conversation re your idea. When signed off, the First Party and the Second Party will have agreed to exchange oral and written proprietary, financial, operating and other information concerning themselves and/or certain of their operating divisions and/or certain of their subsidiaries, including confidential information which has not been generally disclosed to the public. The Parties wish to use such information in connection with evaluating possible business transactions with each other. SPARK will request sign-off on the reciprocal non-disclosure form as part of better business practices.
A rendering is a life-like visual representation of an object or a scene through a formal illustration that creates the illusion of reality. Product renderings typically have more depth than sketches, and include light, shadow and color effects. Renderings can be generated physically by hand on paper using a variety of mixed-media and art tools. Conversely, photo-realistic renderings can be generated using state of the art software and hardware At SPARK, both styles of product renderings are used to convey what a product might look like, how it might be interacted with, and how it would function. Renderings are also sometimes used as stimulus material in marketing exercises (see Attribute Analysis) to elicit customer feedback to product features which serve to further define and then refine the product concept to be designed for manufacture.
A sketch is a drawing that has been created quickly in the interest of expressing and perhaps developing an idea before it can be forgotten. Designers at SPARK use sketching as a process of rapid visualization that allows them to express and document successive ideas almost as fast as they are thought of. Typically, the sketches are later refined and developed more formally in order to convey the most promising of ideas to other parties sharing a vested interest in product development. Sketching then serves as a springboard for thinking, communication, concept generation and concept refinement.
Styling is the act of defining the aesthetic appearance of a product. A chair for example, can be styled to look like a Victorian, Queen Anne, Shaker, Mission, Art Nouveau, or Colonial piece of furniture. Product styling is only one aspect of the entire process of product design and should not be confused as industrial design which as a discipline, considers a breath of concerns including functionality, usability, ergonomics, manufacturability,and styling. At SPARK, we design products to function as specified, to be interacted with as defined, and to demonstrate a compelling visual appeal that can only be imagined.
Synergistic Product Development
Synergistic Product Development occurs when industrial designers, mechanical engineers, and electronics engineers participate together in many if not all of the phases of the product development process to identify and resolve potential issues before they arise, to mitigate risk and to accelerate product development time. At SPARK, we assign individuals to collaborative design teams based upon experience and personal interest to serve our clients with competence, enthusiasm and passion.