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Live Prototyping in Microbrands

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This paper will examine the increasing prevalence and importance of "inmarket"
or "live" prototyping in hardware product development. Over the
past several decades, product development cycles have shortened radically.
The author will argue that we have arrived at a situation in which there is no
longer a cycle, as such, at all, but rather a condition of "continuous release,"
analogous to conditions found in open-source software development.
Software development methodologies have been applied by Steve Blank and
others to the launch of new ventures, and the paper will trace a further
adaptation to physical products, especially for obtaining and managing
"upstream" user feedback. Hong Kong Polytechnic's Roger Ball has coined the
term "microbranding" to describe product-based business ventures
predicated on small-scale manufacturing, internet-based marketing and
sales, and third-party contract logistics. The paper will document the use of
in-market prototyping in a microbranding context as a powerful new tool for
product development. Several graduate industrial design thesis research
projects will be presented which make the case that this practice has already
become normalized among younger designers. The paper will also review
adoption of these methodologies by innovation consultancies and
corporations, and the barriers they've encountered due to branding concerns
and corporate culture.


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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