Product Design Shorts: Falling Out of Love with Gadgets and More
Written by: Cat McClintock

A batch of fresh product design stories, curated just for you.

IoT just upended your development process. Now what?

Just when you think you have the design process down, there’s always something new. If you were a designer in the mid-80s, the development process was given rock star status with the introduction of the Stage-Gate process (basically the act of dividing new product development into stages or phases). This sparked an industry wave and set the standard on how a product evolves through the process.

Today, with the introduction of IoT products, how you design might be tipped on its head again.  An article in Machine Design laid it out for readers with this opening salvo:

The surprisingly rapid arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) between 2015 and 2020 necessitates another incarnation of the product development process.

And, research by Gartner, Inc., forecasts that by 2020 there will be over 20.8 billion “connected things.” That’s a lot of internet and things.

Iot app shown on Smart phone

The “Roomba allows users to program a vacuum with an app on their phone.” That kind of language wasn’t even around ten years ago.

So, do you have a process for IoT? Or does your team employ the usual process when designing for connected products? Here’s a parting shot from the post that might make you reconsider:

Companies that eagerly addressed early-market uncertainties were the first to become proficient. Other companies then copied their practices. But, the eager ones got a three- to five-year head start.

Read the piece here.

Have We Reached Peak Gadget?

The iPhone is officially ten years old. Let that one sink in. On that note has the market finally been saturated by small electronics and gadgetry? Did we peak with the iPhone? We say a hardy “no,” but a piece in Men’s Journal has a different take.

Sure, they have great points, and yes, there are some things best left to analog, but overall, gadgets, at least the well-designed and well-performing ones, have their place. That said, the article nails IoT with this line:

The supremacy of data over hardware seems to be hitting other industries, too.

Indeed it is. The piece ends on an optimistic note:

Maybe 2017 will prove us wrong, and a slew of iconic gadgets will make everyone shut up about the latest Twitter war or Snapchat filter or robotic car, and make consumer electronics as relevant as ever.

Old design of invention

See gadget. See gadget make fire. This is useful. Invented and designed by Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner. Courtesy: Wikimedia

Long Live Good Design

When you’re on a deadline and it’s the middle of night and your team is scrambling to get final design out the doors, sometimes you lose sight of the end product and what it will actually look like. That’s why we love the annual reader’s submissions for best product on designboom.

We really liked the Jet Capsule. Why? Well, just look at it. According to the post, the UFO includes “two habitable areas — other than the outer deck. A main level area houses the kitchen, and a floor access point connects to a sub-level bathroom and underwater viewing area.”

To keep the craft stable, the UFO uses a special elastic anchor system. The main structure of the floating object can be aligned with the compass, keeping the position angle oriented on the desired cardinal direction, even in rough sea conditions.


We would have loved to be in on that design meeting. “It’s a UFO, but for the water.” Read about the other favorite designs here. 

Get Designing

Ready to design your masterpiece? Try out the latest version of Creo! Design smart, connected products and capitalize on new technologies such as additive manufacturing and augmented reality. Visit our Creo 4.0 page for more information.

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Tags: CAD Industrial Internet of Things
About the Author Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC.  She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years,  working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.