Maximilian D Mkenda, 30 August 2021.

It’s hard to be amazed by a prototype. But when you believe and put effort and time into creating one, then you know how close you are to the final product. Sometimes your prototype may look completely boring and mundane at first glance but if you take a closer look, it can reveal mind blowing details. Real dedication in designing your prototype means going past hard mode and thinking way outside the box.

Guess what!? When designing a prototype avoid costly mistakes such as becoming too complex too early and sticking with a weak idea for too long. Madam Julia has enlightened us in several ways on how to come up with good prototypes. With advances in 3D printing technology and laser cutting, producing prototypes is now a more instant and low-cost process, and as a result this has allowed designers to provide stakeholders with accurate and testable replica models before settling upon a particular design.

Among the activities we did, one was brainstorming. We did a “Chemsha Bongo” as one of the methods of generating ideas and sharing knowledge to solve a technical problem in which participants are encouraged to think without interruption. At the conclusion of the session, ideas were written on a piece of paper. A member from either team Amana or Selcom was to defend the group by drawing a structure as a means of interpreting what is written on the paper and his/her group members were to interpret the structure by mentioning its name.

In order to ensure a productive session and one in which all present contribute, there were several brainstorming rules: defer judgement, encourage wild ideas, build on the ideas of others, stay focused on the topic, one conversation at a time, be visual and go for quantity (think fast).

Figure 1. Madam Julia explaining the brainstorming rules

A prototype is the best example or cognitive representation of something within a certain category. As team Selcom we built prototypes of varying degrees of fidelity to capture design concepts and test various measures such as the stress test.

Figure 2. A drink holder prototype

As shown in Figure 2, we added the spongy materials in order to reduce the spilling of drinks.We also added an inner stair or layer in order to allow Duka-direct to be able to put small drinks too.

Another prototype model we created was a vest prototype for design verification purposes to help Duka-direct’s future customers understand their products.

Figure 3. Vest prototype in test

As team Selcom we created prototypes and tested them, then we tweaked and tested the revised prototypes. This cycle is thus referred to as design iteration. It is an approach that designers and others use to continually improve a design or product. The design iteration processes are: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. Design iterative is important as it identifies positive and negative aspects of design, efficiently addresses potential design problems and for receiving ongoing user feedback.

After initializing our objectives which were spiling, cost, weight, durability and user friendliness, we drew a Pugh chart. This is a tool used to give a holistic overview of the needs, goals and other important criteria for the teams versus the available alternatives. So, you rate how each design meets each design criterion relative to the datum.

Generally, I am having a great time as we are trying to come up with good prototypes. As team Selcom, we are trying our level best in designing and testing the prototypes. It is important to remember that if you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way – Napoleon Hill.


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