The very process of introducing new products to the market does not matter from the perspective of the end customer. Regardless of the course of the project, the final device must be adequately functional and meet specific requirements. The vast majority of currently available equipment is made correctly from a technical perspective – however, “correctly” is usually only minimally sufficient. The benefits of an approach that focuses primarily on the use of ready-made, template solutions are savings that turn out to be only apparent.
Meeting just the basic assumptions of the project may seem a reasonably rational and tempting idea. Using proven, commonly applied modules and components provided by external suppliers will help with this approach. The device can thus be quickly brought into a functional state, suitable for wider distribution. This is similar to the concept of MVP – Minimum Viable Product, i.e., a product that is minimally ready for market launch. It is complete enough to show potential customers its value. However, the use of elements that are not tailored from scratch to the needs of a given project may affect innovation, diligence, or even the quality of the final solution.
Never be in a hurry
A project focused too much on delivering a product that meets only the most basic specifications may create additional problems later. Without a proper strategy, the initially reduced expenses may eventually increase unexpectedly. This may happen due to the potential need to repeat selected design phases (e.g., electromagnetic compatibility tests). Poor analysis of the market needs, insufficient number of functions, and a construction that is ill-considered from the very beginning may cause problems in the use of the device by the end-user. All of this can significantly impact the reception of the product among consumers.
Fortunately, such risky issues as those mentioned above, resulting from a rather dark scenario, can be almost eliminated. The answer to these problems is to create a solution that will be tailored to the project’s needs from its very beginning. This can be achieved by working with experienced specialists right from the concept stage. Therefore, it is worth getting to know and understand better the process of introducing an electronic product to the market – or at least how we do it in Unisystem.
The support of experienced engineers is valuable at almost every stage – from the first idea to the final implementation. What the whole cooperation looks like depends on the complexity of the project. The starting point is always a series of meetings and consultations aimed at gathering the functional and technical requirements of the device. The customer can count on advice and assistance in the selection of individual components – this saves time from the very beginning, entrusts some of the responsibility to specialists, and guarantees cost optimization. Once the specifications are known, the origins of the design documentation take the form of a block diagram. It shows how the product will operate through the use of functional blocks.
The document illustrates the relationships of dependencies between the main components of the system – processors, integrated circuits, and microprocessors. At this stage, all additional factors that may affect the implementation of a given module in the final device are also defined: external dimensions of the solution, its thickness and mechanics, electrical parameters, and how it will be powered. The available 3D models are also analyzed to best match the hardware to the customer’s requirements. Fitting into the existing housings and adapting to the properties of the materials can also be a big challenge. Sometimes, it is necessary to design appropriate protection of the module from scratch, intended only for this specific implementation.
From concept to completion
Once a concept is developed, it is transferred to a specific electronic solution. Documentation is created in full cooperation with the client – during this process, the vision for the final product is clarified. After passing internal verification processes, the client receives the design for approval. At this stage, we are ready to answer any questions and doubts. Full transparency of the applied solutions and their understanding by the customer will make the subsequent phases run smoothly and quickly. This includes stages such as prototyping, internal testing, corrections, and updating of documentation. After the last functional tests of the device, its first batch is delivered to the client.
WD-40 and Nintendo’s failure
History knows many failures that resulted from questionable actions at one of the stages of the product development process. Mistakes can lead to something special, though – the very name of the WD-40 spray is an abbreviation of “Water Displacement – 40th Attempt”. This means that 39 previous formulas for this product were unsuccessful. Only the 40th approach turned out to be a success to its originators and the whole company. Unfortunately, the circumstances of designing electronic products are usually much less favorable.
An interesting case study could be virtual reality (VR) technology. Today it has an established position in the electronic entertainment market. However, since the 1990s, VR has had ups and downs, one of the biggest being Nintendo’s Virtual Boy from 1995. Today’s devices for this type of entertainment resemble their ancestor only in appearance – the Nintendo system did not even offer a proper virtual reality experience but only showed a 3D image. The product used a pair of oscillating mirrors to transform a single line of LED pixels into a three-dimensional projection of red dots on a black background. That hardware supported these colors only. Moreover, it was inconvenient to use, had a poorly responsive operating system, offered little functionality, and was quite expensive. In addition, it caused its users back problems, and its excessive use could even damage eyesight. This is an example of an innovation introduced to the market before the technology necessary for its implementation was ready. Still, an idea ahead of its time wasn’t the only factor in Virtual Boy’s failure – the hardware itself was tested with not nearly enough attention. The product was hastily released to the market, stopping at its very attractive, but unrealistic concept.
Innovation through thoughtful design
The physical result of combining the professionalism of Unisystem’s engineers and the implementation of the project’s vision is a device intended for the retail market – a combination of a mobile self-service checkout and a shopping cart. It eliminates the customer’s need to stand in lines and significantly simplifies the shopping process in any store, practically without the participation of its staff. The selected goods are scanned directly by the user. The payment is made by using a smartphone or an application of a given supermarket chain. After that, all is left to do is put it back in its place and leave the facility.
The described solution is beneficial not only for customers but also for the stores themselves – the cart helps control users’ purchasing processes, analyze their choices, and influence decisions. The built-in screen also allows displaying any advertising content informing about current promotions. The display may also suggest additional, complementary products, depending on those already scanned by the customer. The entire system makes shopping easier for its users and helps build consumer loyalty. Sellers also receive a lot of support in managing the facility itself. Planning deliveries and matching the assortment to the visitor’s expectations becomes manageable thanks to the data analysis of their behavior.
The solution is equipped with a computer with a touch screen, a scanner built into the handle that allows you to read EAN and QR codes, and an appropriate scale. The equipment also has a LED lighting system that informs store employees about the current status of the cash register and the mode in which it works. Unisystem has created the base board with the processor for advanced AI calculations exclusively for this client. The carrier board designed by our engineers is prepared to handle many peripherals, such as, e.g., systems controlling battery charging in the cart or managing voltage and power consumption. The whole device is placed on one board, created in close cooperation with the customer. The project is the result of joint work and communication between mechanics, electronics, and IT specialists – it has the potential to compete with the similar maintenance-free solutions provided by the largest tech companies.
Specialists from Unisystem combine vision sharing with a professional approach – we understand and support our clients at all stages of a given solution. From the beginning of the project, through production and precise adaptation to the application requirements, ending with the final implementation – we are not just a component supplier but also a business partner. Contact us if you need any support in implementing your project.
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