Prototyping: Not Always a Work of Art

Unfortunately I missed this week’s lesson and Shapeways guest lecture, but I truly enjoyed going over the assigned readings and seeing what my teammates came up with for our initial prototype sketches. While we’ve heard about various makers’ approaches towards prototyping over the course of this semester, I was surprised to hit so many mental roadblocks when thinking of the prototype for our own product, a solar powered food/beverage heater. I could think of the individual components that would be necessary for the product to function, and I could think of ways that existing models could be improved, but I had a hard time actually starting.

Much like the Edison Nation blog post described, I had stored all of these ideas in my mind but was having a hard time translating them into an actual prototype concept. I think the idea of starting off by drawing with pen and paper is great—my teammates sent me photos of the sketches they came up with, and while they were different from what I would’ve designed, it was cool to map out their thought processes through the drawings.

While sketching is a great first step, I’m eager to generate a physical prototype for user feedback. As David Kelley discussed in his videos, the process of “enlightened trial and error” seems to offer a lot of value. I think this is especially true given some of the technical ambiguity with our project—I’m not too familiar with the various requirements of optimizing solar power, and although I’ve been trying to research as much as possible, I often find myself feeling too intimidated to design a prototype. I think I will take David’s advice, however, and remind myself that early, unfinished prototypes can be the source of valuable user feedback, which in turn helps the project move along in the right direction. In other words, it doesn’t need to be a work of art in its first iteration, but it does need to materialize in some capacity.

2 thoughts on “Prototyping: Not Always a Work of Art”

  1. Hi Ria,
    I have had takeaways similar to yours in that I realized prototypes may not be all that one would imagine them to be. Before ever prototyping, I had the idea that prototypes would be very innovative iterations of my work that would be impressive. Upon learning in this course, I’ve quickly realized that prototypes are not often impressive at all. Rather, they are usually simple and have the sole purpose of putting an idea into a visualization. I look forward to seeing how everyone’s prototypes evolve over the next few weeks.
    -Scott Provenzano

  2. Hey Ria!

    We missed you last week! I’m glad you liked Jason and my prototype ideas! I also agree that we had a major roadblock on starting our project (and even coming up with a project idea!). I am glad we finally all agreed on one and we are getting started!

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