Guest blogger: Gray Holland from the design firm Alchemy Labs.
Making it Work: [June 27th 2008]
Next steps began with evolving the 3D CAD sketch into something that really worked. We started by building a visual prototype to test the idea. We rapidly moved forward on the refinement and prototyping simultaneously because the design direction was clear to everyone. 3D files and cut-a-ways views illustrated the build of materials [BOM] for the factory in order to get preliminary manufacturing feedback. We were very excited that things were going so smoothly, releasing our first prototype in record time; It looked like we would not have any problems hitting our Christmas launch date.
First Prototypes - The Reality Check: [July 1st 2008]
The first prototype looked great, exactly like the original vision of the concept. But after reviewing it with Alden and the Perfect team, I had an anxious feeling: Had we created a design that was flexible enough for the exercise itself? After doing further testing with the prototype, we came to the conclusion that we wanted more flexibility in the base of the Counter. We found the more the user became fatigued in their workout, the more difficult it was for them to repeat the same rep height every time. In fact, we concluded that we wanted up to 2 inches of travel for the Counter to better match the users needs. The donut shaped foam button only gave us about a half of an inch of travel, but we quickly saw this problem as an innovation opportunity.
Next we moved forward to test our flexibility idea with some quick mock-ups. With no time to model and cast up this new idea, we identified another product that was close in form and function—so raiding the nearest hardware store requisitioning a bunch of plungers to test our concept. By cutting them into different shapes and studying their resulting behaviors, we were able to develop the “perfect” shape: maintaining the original design statement while adding this new flexible base functionality.