The Secret to Innovative Product Design

If you want your company to be a leader in your industry, it’s essential to have a constant flow of creative ideas that lead to innovative products. Some companies may struggle to come up with new ideas that lead to successful products. There are some ways you can help promote creative thought in your staff and encourage the development of unique product designs. Check out these tips to help you get more from your staff in product development.

Focus on Solutions

One effective way you can generate more ideas for product design is to focus on solutions instead of the final product. Generally, all companies are in the business of providing solutions to various problems for their customers. It’s up to your product design staff members to develop items that solve problems in the form of products or services.

Follow Product Category Trends

Next, it’s important to have a strong understanding of your current industry’s product category trends. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing and perhaps develop more thoughtful solutions. Attend as many industry conferences as you can, and network with other leaders in your field to have a better understanding of the current trends and atmosphere in your line of business.

Try Small Improvements

Another way to generate new ideas is to look for improvements in your current product line. It’s not always necessary to create an entirely new design that is vastly different from your current inventory. Sometimes, the best innovations take what is already in existence and improve it. Use customer feedback and staff suggestions to make something you already have much better.

Study Examples of Product Design

Creativity can also be developed by looking at other innovative product design ideas for inspiration. If you and your team are having trouble brainstorming new product ideas, looking at some of the coolest design examples from the past that can provide you ideas about new ways of thinking. Studying these examples may help inspire your team to create something entirely new and unique.

Partner With Design Firms

In some cases, it may make the most sense to get some outside ideas from product design engineering partners. In this situation, you can outsource your product design ideas and get results for your toughest customer problems with a fresh perspective. Partnering with a firm that specializes in engineering design services in your industry to help you jumpstart your own new idea-gathering process as well. With a specialized product design firm, you can focus your creative energy on making decisions about designs instead of getting frustrated with the lack of ideas.

Encourage Creative Thinking

The final tip to help your company be more creative is to encourage more creative thinking. Take more time to brainstorm and encourage any suggestions about new products from your entire staff instead of just a select few. Do more product design team building exercises and non-traditional work to access new ideas from each team member’s creative side. Think outside of the box instead of doing the same thing you’ve always done to get a different result. Creativity is difficult to produce on demand, especially with new product design ideas. Chances are you probably have some staff members who are creative thinkers but just need a push. Your task is to find these diamonds in the rough. Our medical device design division spends 2 hours every Friday morning to brainstorm new ideas. This time is always scheduled, and all employees are welcome. This is generally the best two ours of the week.

Meticulous Engineering in Medical Devices is a MUST

Medical device manufacturing is an intricate process that requires methodical execution in order to keep patients safe. Instruments should be designed with usability in mind. This gives those performing the procedures the greatest chance of consistent success and therefore continued use. Not only is a good design easier to use, but there are fewer risk factors involved when devices are well-engineered.

What Challenges Must Be Considered

The biggest challenge facing engineers is interpreting the relationship between the user and the device. Special consideration needs to be given to the way the average person perceives information and then acts based on what he or she has observed. The medical device designer must be intuitive about how the user may manipulate the device while performing prescribed tasks and maintenance tasks such as,  charging the battery and cleaning the device.

During product development, a design engineer has to keep in mind all phases of the product’s operation, from beginning to end. The user should be able to prep the instrument, use it and maintain it with ease, and the device should respond well to a human’s instinctive actions. Ergonomic concerns that should be addressed are:

  • How it fits into the user’s hand
  • The diversity of the users physical aspects and skill sets
  • What shape will work best for the intended purpose

How Proper Engineering Improves Usability

Devices are significantly easier to use when all human factors have been considered in the design process. Current technology has created common expectations when it comes to the way electronic devices work. By taking advantage of a person’s existing knowledge, engineers can build in functionality that is simple to operate based upon a user’s expectations.

If instruction manuals are more concise, users will have a much easier time comprehending them. Product design engineering companies also should prioritize patient safety, allowing a medical professional to use a device with confidence that the data they’re receiving is correct.

How Superior Design Reduces Risk

Managing risk is just as important to engineers as usability. A device needs to be able to supply the operator with accurate information, since these details are often used to make important decisions about their patient’s treatment and care.

Industrial design for medical devices should be intuitive enough that the potential for user error is low. The risk of malfunction needs to be thoroughly tested beforehand, with proper modifications to the product’s engineering to compensate for anticipated problems.

In choosing a firm to execute your product innovations, it’s important to pick the most meticulous industrial design services available. Get in touch today to start the process in bringing your medical device to fruition.

Medical Device Design Benefits From Functional Decomposition

Modern medical devices designers have the difficult task of trying to take on the role of both engineer and medical expert at the same time, meaning a new product development company has to spend extensive resources and design time submitting and resubmitting models for review by the appropriate authorities.

An ideal way around these obstacles is by involving medical professionals into the design process from the earliest stages of conceptualization. How? By using functional decomposition to identify key processes, create clear goals for needed inventions and make sure solutions work on paper before blindly forging onto mechanical design and prototyping.

How To Apply Functional Decomposition to Medical Device Design

The premise of functional decomposition is simple: to break down key functions into their most essential sub functions in an easy-to-understand diagram. Engineers first state a device’s proposed purpose in simple terms. Then they conceptualizing each step required for the development process:

  • General functions
  • Sub functions
  • Basic functions
  • Object of actions
  • Causes of actions

Can this method be applied to medical device design? Absolutely. Product development companies just need to assign new tags to familiar functions:

  • Performed_On: The patient – or patient organ – becomes the recipient of an action.
  • Performed_By: Doctors or components that cause an action.
  • Has_Environment: Environmental considerations such as sterility are stated.
  • input_flow: Indicates the need for mechanical energy in the procedure or device.
  • output_flow: Refers to the action of removing unneeded material from the patient’s body during a procedure.

These brief tagging examples show how even complex medical procedures or required medical actions on the part of a device can be broken down in a functional decomposition diagram, before ever starting to design a physical model.

An Example of Functional Decomposition in Practice

Consider the gastric compression band. What is the overall function of this simple device? To reduce the size of the patient’s stomach. This requires creating a diagram of the object – the stomach – and the action of applying compression from the medical device – the band. A simple flow chart indicates the steps required, including the presence of a new physical device.

Advantages of Using Functional Decomposition for Medical Device Creation

Here’s why taking the time to convert medical knowledge into digital data is valuable for medical device designers in many situations:

  • A searchable database reduces time needed to find effective subcomponents.
  • Past designs can be easily extrapolated from and expanded upon.
  • Larger teams offering engineering design services can work simultaneously.
  • Time-to-production is reduced for many complex devices.

By creating detailed functional diagrams prior to embarking on the medical device design services they were contracted for, the new product development company would have to start from scratch every time. In a way, functional decomposition becomes a pathway to new medical procedures. By employing functional decomposition, perhaps other product development companies in Philadelphia can be a translator that helps doctors and engineers understand each other clearly when talking about patient needs.

Moving Your Concept Past The FDA Requires Documentation

There is always a market for innovative medical equipment that advances healthcare, no matter how small the application. Maybe you have an idea that would improve an already existing device or a diagnostic apparatus that would revolutionize the patient experience. If you’re ready to transform your idea into a tangible product, you are at the beginning of possibly a long and sometimes complicated process of acquiring regulatory approval. Documenting every step of the way in a design history file (DHF) is an essential part of creating a new product that will meet with regulatory requirements.

What Is a Design History File?

The DHF is required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is a document that details every step of the development process and their guidelines are laid out in this FDA Code Title 21, section 820.30. The FDA requires this document to verify that you and your team’s methods fall in line with regulations for every component of the design control process, which includes the following:

  • Design and development planning
  • Design input
  • Design output
  • Design review
  • Design verification
  • Design validation
  • Design transfer
  • Design changes
  • Design history file

This recording process should generate a veritable mountain of documentation that is compiled into the DHF. The final file should be gathered into one document, that should also include an index for the researcher to follow easily.

How Will It Enhance the Development Process?

As a medical device designer, we know how complex the development process can be for most inventors. A DHF will help you keep everything organized. Knowing that this thorough documentation is required will remind you to keep meticulous notes. These notes can help to overcome obstacles that arise future along in the process by allowing you to backtrack and make adjustments where needed. Also, as you prepare to submit your medical device to the FDA, you can use the DHF to double check your methods. While the FDA requires this file for their own work, it is equally useful on your end.

How Will It Help Meet FDA Requirements?

When the FDA reviews your device, a lead reviewer follows and acceptance checklist that is very comprehensive and includes a review of the digital history file. An agent will review your DHF to make sure your product design & development process was properly documented and every medical device designer involved complied with applicable regulations. One of the main reasons for developing history files is to ensure that product designers for healthcare devices follow a strict code of ethics and product safety is of paramount importance during the engineering design process.

How To Design With Digital in Mind

Today’s consumers have higher expectations of products’ capabilities than ever before. With the fast growth of smart technology, everyday appliances can now perform some pretty amazing tasks, making the ease and convenience once relegated to science fiction a reality available to millions.

With new features come new difficulties.Due to their increased complexity, connected devices must be designed differently than their low-tech predecessors. There are several factors that can influence the user experience that a connected device designer should keep in mind.

Does the Interface Match the User’s Abilities?

During product design and development, the primary focus should be on the intended use and the potential users. Is this meant to be operated by someone with specialized knowledge and previous experience with similar devices? Or is this meant to be utilized by anyone, with no or minimal training required?A new product design engineer familiar with a product’s purpose should first seek to understand the intended users’ technological literacy and plan accordingly.

Does the Design Take Mental Models Into Account?

When confronted with a new technology, people generally try to make sense of the novelty by relying on their history with items similar in form or function. For example, users unfamiliar with a touch screen may double tap a word to highlight it based on their experience double clicking with a mouse.

An IoT product designer can also increase ease of use by utilizing organizational methods that most people easily recognize. Familiar ways of arranging information include:

  • Lists
  • Menus
  • Branching systems
  • Charts and tables

Users are more likely to be comfortable using a product if they can easily navigate the system provided. Asking consumers to learn new methods of organizing information may be asking too much if they just want to do something as simple as checking today’s forecast.

Does the Design Overwhelm the User?

Just because a product can do a lot doesn’t mean your design needs to showcase it all at once. An interface needs to be clean and concise to help users get the most out of their experience in the simplest way possible. Thoughtful design can facilitate ease of use with even the most complicated devices.

As connected devices become more commonplace, the role of an IoT engineer can prove vital to product design & development companies. These innovations not only promise convenience to the average consumer, but practical solutions to businesses and organizations. A connected device designer can contribute to quality of life by creating quality interfaces that allow both expert users and regular people to access the newest technology.

Making the Jump to Smart Product Design

Across many industries, the market of everyday consumer products is being transformed by the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), both on the customer side via new functionality and on the manufacturer side with new insight into customers’ responses to products. Data – collection, processing and transmitting – is where value is found. Amidst the changing market, product development companies have to learn how to make the most out of what smart products allow, while competitors race to do the same. There are a few fundamental aspects to smart products that designers face when transitioning into smart products and services.

What Smart Products Look Like

The capacity to handle data is at the heart of what makes a product “smart” – smart products communicate. This is a broader definition than what many people will likely think of, though. Customers understand “smart”as wearables or home automation systems, but early models of smart integration typically start with gathering feedback on product use. Smart product designers should become familiar with three major components to these technologies:

  • The physical component of the product, already extant but potentially in need of new manufacturing processes;
  • The smart component, which gives the product a virtual “presence”, ranging from QR codes to fully embedded interfaces;
  • The means of connectivity, wired or wireless, between the product and the manufacturer or customer.

Challenges of Smart Business Models

Making a product smart requires significant changes in development resources and allocation of funds, with some of the key issues being outside the normal domain of a product design engineer. The smart components added to the product are not purely physical but will also include software apps running on the product or alongside it (e.g. a mobile app that connects to a device or readsaIR tag). Connectivity must also be maintained with 24/7 support; a failure of manufacturer-side infrastructure can potentially interrupt or disable customers’ use of the product, especially as subscription-based models become more common within the IoT space.

The Projected Future of the Market

Predicting what the market will look like as smart products proliferate is difficult, but a few points are certain. Existing 20th century models of industry will swiftly need to be revamped or abandoned to account for digital connections. Product development companies will thrive by engaging with customers and establishing ways to gather insights on user needs and expectations so that your smart product designer can implement improvements that can be pushed out during software updates. Experimentation is critical as well, finding ways in which smart connectivity can further enhance user experience and exploring new business models both internally and in the customer-manufacturer relationship. The main takeaway should be this: pay close attention to developments in smart technology and the IoT and be ready to act.

IoT Circuit Board Design Is Hot Right Now

26The Internet of Things (IoT) has presented a world where the digital and physical worlds can truly live together. It’s no surprise that more companies are interested in providing connected devices that take advantage of this change in the technology landscape. For startups and manufacturers, this means being on the cutting edge of new technology.

Changes in Printed Circuit Boards

It’s even more crucial to be aware of changes if you outsource your work to an electrical engineer. You want to be sure that you have the newest techniques available and some engineers my be working with yesterday’s technology. PCBs are constantly evolving, becoming smaller and providing more features. Having an idea of what is happening lets you focus on finding the right IoT design engineers for your specific needs.

IoT Design Requirements

When you are embarking on product development for wearable tech devices, you need to be aware of what to put your focus on. There are a few different things to be aware of and we encourage you to prioritize steps with your electrical engineer.

  • Security – As more devices become connected to the digital landscape, it’s crucial that security is sufficient to block any threats. It is becoming more common for security through software to be considered insufficient for this purpose. Hardware-based security methods are often a better option. Perhaps a combination hardware with software security options.
  • Battery Life – Unlike many other devices, IoT products are constantly communicating with a network. This means that having an extended battery life is a must. Some of the things an electrical engineer for IoT devices can do is to optimize power consumption during design and to analyze the integrity of the power source.
  • Flexibility – The majority of applications for IoT are small in size and need to be flexible. This is important due to the size of most devices being designed today. HDI and rigid-flex are two of the ways IoT design engineers can meet your needs on a physical basis.
  • High Standards – Industry standards continue to become more restrictive as more consumers delve into the world of IoT devices. Your electrical engineer should be on top of any new standardization and willing to embrace that sort of challenge.

Making Your IoT Devices Work in Harmony

Your electrical engineer for IoT devices should be forward thinking with a complete understanding of the ways IoT design is changing the way people interact with connected devices and cloud based applications. When you contract with an engineer or designer for your new product, consider the above list first. Having trouble finding a IoT design engineer that is forward thinking? Give Definitive Design a call today and perhaps we can help you get started.