My colleague Michel and I recently imagined and developed a new product concept related to connected objects. With this in mind, we had a conversation with Jean Hong, Product Designer at Dassault Systèmes, to talk about his perspective on industrial design in the consumer electronics domain.
We decided to share that conversation with you to get your reaction and comments. Feel free to let us know.
Question (Q): If you had just three days to design a new electronic connected device, how would you proceed?
Jean Hong (JH):
Well, it depends on the objectives I get. Re-styling an existing product is obviously faster than defining a fully new concept. A few years ago I would have asked for about seven days to produce a new concept proposal. I usually needed this time to deliver a pretty exhaustive mix of hand sketching, 3D modeling, and realistic rendering.
Today, with the design solution I adopted, I can overcome this challenge, and deliver a finalized concept within three to four days. By the way, this is the kind of time pressure many of my customers ask me to deal with.
Q: So you are telling me that you are now delivering the same output in three to four days that required seven days few years ago? Are you really delivering the same output?
Good point–there is a big difference in the output. Today I am able to deliver a concept with higher quality, ready for manufacturing, and containing more details than before in less time.
Sketching on paper is very time-consuming. You need multiple viewpoints, details, and colors to make yourself understood by other project team members and customers.
Now I can directly and quickly sketch my idea in the 3D environment. Keeping my design intent, I rely on this 3D sketch directly to model the product with the clay modeling approach of “Imagine and Shape” application.
Ideally, sketching and modeling should be done at the same time in the same environment. It is now possible with this software solution. I can mix these two ideation steps, evaluate, and validate the volume of my product concept. Technically speaking, I save a lot of time because no data import /export between different tools is needed.
Q: You talked about “design intent.” Why is it so important for you?
Many times products lose their initial design intent because so many people are behind the project and there are many steps before production. The concept shape, proportions, materials, details, and finishes express the high-level message I want to communicate. If this message is misunderstood or not technically specified correctly, the mechanical engineers will have a different interpretation or no idea at all, which will impact market success.
Q: How are you dealing with this issue?
Now that the entire project team relies on the same cloud collaboration platform, I can iterate in real time with the mechanical engineering team. All the specifications I add either to sketches or 3D models are directly usable. Because we work on the same data, the risk of misunderstanding is minimized. In addition, because the engineering data is visible to me, I can detect any issue and find a solution with the engineering department before it gets critical.
Q: Is the product design validation 100% digital?
We now have an incredibly powerful digital definition. We take advantage of it to share, communicate, and finalize the design concept. Did you see how realistic product rendering can now be with advanced effects such as physical light and reflections applied to the accurate materials definition? This can be done even by people who are not expert in this domain.
One might think that digital is enough, but this is not the case. At some point in time I need to touch, feel, and place the object in its real physical context. Weight sensation, hand-grab, and materials touch cannot be fully evaluated digitally yet. Taking the example of a smart watch, how can we validate ergonomics without being able to wear it? For this, anytime I feel the need, I just press the 3D print button, and create a product prototype.
Q: Do you think that we could see the digital world merge with the physical one in the coming years?
This is already happening. 3D print is starting to be affordable for people like you and I. Virtual reality devices already propose an immersive approach, and prototypes start to address more human senses such as touch and taste. The boundary between digital and physical is getting ever blurrier. I am fine with this, provided that I can still access user-friendly applications. I am sure that in the very near future, thanks to all the new applications, I will be able to leverage my design intent for usages we just can’t imagine today.
We really think that we can change the world through the power of design!
What about you? Share your comments below.
Want to know more ? Visit our Ideation & Concept Design website, or Watch our video about new Concept Design and read the Whitepaper “The power of Design Thinking” written by Phil Gray MDesRCA, Managing Director, Quadro Design Limited, part of Sagentia Group.
Vincent Merlino and Michel Monsellier are passionate members of the Dassault Systèmes High Tech Industry Solution Experience Team.