The Power of Prototypes in Foresight Engineering
Prototyping has long been a popular method in engineering and design practice. The continued use of physical prototyping is based on its strength in helping teams to make ideas tangible, iterate quickly at a low cost, and develop a shared language. Over the past seven years, our team has used prototyping in an industry-research program focused on foresight engineering?the development of new products and services that are three or more product cycles in the future. Through the discussion of three international cases drawn from India, Europe and the United States, this paper offers insight into the value and application of physical prototypes earlier in the innovation process and before the traditional handoff from strategy to product design. In summary, physical prototypes are exemplary tools for envisioning complex systems, serving an unmet need in helping teams explore potential service applications, and helping reveal the path of progression from today's solutions to tomorrow's opportunities.