What is a Prototype?

prototype

If you have a new idea and are involved in the design process, one of the most important steps is the creation of a prototype. A prototype can be almost anything, from a series of drawings to a perfect replica. The most basic definition of a prototype is “A simulation or sample version of a final product, which is used for testing prior to launch.” The goal of having a prototype is to test product ideas before spending time and money on the final product.

Prototyping is essential in the creation of new products. It can resolve usability issues and reveal areas that need improving or discarding. When a sample of your product idea is being used by real consumers, you get an idea of how they want to use the product. Consistent adjustments during the prototyping process are being made all the time to make sure that all the facets or components of the item are working the way you intended. Prototypes have four basic qualities:

  • Representation: This refers to the actual form of the prototype, i.e., paper and mobile, or HTML and desktop.
  • Precision: The prototype’s fidelity, i.e., its level of detail, polish and realism.
  • Interactivity: This refers to how functional it is to the user, e.g., fully or partially functional or available for viewing only.
  • Evolution: This refers to the ‘lifecycle’ of a prototype. Some prototypes are built quickly, tested and discarded, and eventually replaced by an improved version, called ‘rapid prototyping.’ Others are built, improved upon and ultimately become the final product.

A common misconception is that prototyping only needs to be done a couple of times toward the end of a design process. It is far more beneficial to test early on and often and it is a good idea to prototype every phase of your design, from the first and most basic iteration. Prototypes don’t just look like the final version of your design. They are a version of the design that can be used for testing.

Medi-Ray produces prototypes based on a customer’s design with refinements by Medi-Ray’s design personnel. Second and third stage prototypes take designs all the way to the final dimensions for DOT testing, customer production requirements and marketing personnel approval. Medi-Ray is located in Tuckahoe, NY. For additional information, please contact us at 877-898-3003 or email sales@mediray.com.

 

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