Stone Junction Ltd

The digital revolution is arriving in prototyping

Author : Alejandro Turell, CEO at LastBasic

19 October 2021

(Shutterstock image)
(Shutterstock image)

From the first light bulb to the first computer, great ideas change the world. When we think back on these inventions though, we often think of the end product and overlook everything that came before it. We forget that at one stage the greatest products we know and use today started as a mere idea with no physical form. A critical part of developing those products from ideas to being fully formed is prototyping.

Over the years, the ways budding inventors have developed prototypes has evolved significantly. Nowadays, inventors have at their disposal a wide range of options for turning their golden idea into a physical item with one of the most common routes being to engage with an engineering consultancy. But in a world where everything moves with speed and demands are high, there are many limitations and barriers to these traditional routes when it comes to prototyping, paving the way for a more technologically driven model.
Costly processes with limited control 
A prominent challenge inventors face is the significant cost of collaborating with a consultancy. These high costs are accessible to companies with big R&D budgets but are simply prohibitive to many independent inventors, who may require third party funding to cover them. As well as a costly process, it can often be slow and inventors may lose control of the project, thus missing potentially time sensitive market opportunities. 
In recent years, freelancing platforms have sought to alleviate some of these challenges as they allow inventors to select an engineer as a project manager to manage the entire process and outsource each task to different designers and engineers. However, issues may arise with this option as a single engineer or designer may not have the knowledge or skills to complete an entire project, or a holistic view of the whole project. For example, individuals tasked with completing a small task for the prototype may not have a full understanding of the wider objective and aim. 
The limitations and barriers outlined above have a major impact on the products that succeed in going from idea stage to being a functional prototype. Inventors in some cases find the slow timelines mean they missed the opportunity to be first to market, some are priced out of taking their ideas any further, and others end up with a product that does not do what they had foreseen. What this ultimately means though, is that good ideas are not being executed well enough or as required and inventors are missing out on opportunities. A remedy to this has been needed for some time.
The need for a digital solution – introducing LastBasic
Here at LastBasic, we set out challenge the traditional consultancy model. Our model uses a digital platform to enable inventors to share their ideas with a diverse field of expert industrial design and engineering professionals from around the world and have those experts compete for the project. But instead of bidding via quotes, in the way a consultancy might win a project put out to tender by a company, experts win the project by showing how they would complete the task/activity that they are competing for.
This means the priority is placed on making the best possible prototype, instead of inventors comparing quotes which inevitably don’t include the hidden costs traditional methods add on at the later stages. 
The process is then repeated for every stage of the prototyping. At every phase, inventors are selecting the expert that has proven they are most aligned with the idea and how they would execute. And this is within closely controlled package costs, which means inventors know how much they will be paying and need not worry about escalating budgets.
Democratising the prototyping process for everyone
The traditional methods for prototyping have not adapted to the opportunities that technology present –they operate much the same way as they have done for years and there is little evidence that this is changing. Meanwhile, the new model embraces technology to eliminate many of the barriers that exist in the traditional models. Being a digital platform, inventors can oversee and progress their projects remotely from anywhere in the world, in real-time, and aren’t limited by geographical accessibility to consultancies, industrial design and engineering teams or freelancers.
So, for starters, by automating much of the process, the inefficiencies and delays caused by manual input and administration are eliminated. Inventors are no longer at the mercy of account managers holding back progress, because the timeline is dictated by the automated system. Inventors and expert designers and engineers have set timelines, which ensures consistency across projects and user experiences. 
Critically, the new model pools talent, experience, knowledge, skills, and problem solving from designers and engineers from around the world. This means proposals for how to prototype ideas are more varied than, say, a consultancy, where thinking is limited by internal rules and politics, a lack of geographical diversity, and many other factors. 
Many of the initial challenges are removed, enabling anyone in the world with an idea and motivation to turn their idea into a reality. This is, undoubtedly, a major paradigm shift in prototyping that has the potential to accelerate innovation across any sector and anywhere in the world.

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