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Digitally Capturing Physical Prototypes During Early-Stage Product Development Projects for Analysis

by   Jorgen F. Erichsen, et al.

Aiming to help researchers capture early-stage Product Development (PD) activity, this article presents a new method for digitally capturing prototypes. The motivation for this work is to understand prototyping in the early stages of PD projects, and this article investigates if and how digital capture of physical prototypes can be used for this purpose. In PD case studies, such early-stage prototypes are usually rough and of low-fidelity and are thus often discarded or substantially modified through the projects. Hence, retrospective access to prototypes is a challenge when trying to gather accurate empirical data. To capture the prototypes developed through the early stages of a project, a new method has been developed for digitally capturing physical prototypes through multi-view images, along with metadata describing by who, when and where the prototypes were captured. In this article, one project is shown in detail to demonstrate how this capturing system can gather empirical data for enriching PD case studies on early-stage projects that focus on prototyping for concept generation. The first approach is to use the multi-view images for a qualitative assessment of the projects, which can provide new insights and understanding on various aspects like design decisions, trade-offs and specifications. The second approach is to analyse the metadata provided by the system to give understanding into prototyping patterns in the projects. The analysis of metadata provides insight into prototyping progression, including the frequency of prototyping, which days the project participants are most active, and how the prototyping changes over time.


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