The Future Forecast for Product Design: Exciting Times Ahead

Today’s advanced new product development techniques are a continuation of a story that’s as old as mankind. Since the dawn of civilization, the production and improvement of tools and other products has never stopped. Granted, recent technological leaps in our interconnected world have accelerated the product development process. But where are things headed 5, 10, 20 years from now? Simplexity Product Development has a few thoughts on the subject. The design and development firm has witnessed product development process changes since their launch in 2005. Here’s what they had to say.  

Good product design includes fundamental principles, rooted in what has worked in the past; great product design builds on that foundation and also integrates tomorrow’s technology – today. Sure, there’s a certain comfort level in standard features and benefits; but inspired, eye-toward-the-future innovation is an integral element of all great product advancements. 

Every effective product development process is essentially a bridge between two modes of thought:

  • Efficient new product development is based on traditional yet flexible ways of working. Effective quality control measures, design review processes, and other “old” techniques are a key foundation of practical, sustainable product design and development.

  • Product development requires cutting-edge technology and future-focused thinking, even as conventional, established design methods remain in place.

Sometimes, this link between present and future can muddy the waters. Working in harmony, these two pillars of new product development enable a focused, free-flowing design process. Where is product design headed in the near future, and what lessons can product development staff take away from this crystal ball?

Product Development Improvements: Recent History, Upcoming Advancements

The promise of tomorrow’s technology is already here with some product design innovations. Here are a few unquestioned new product development disruptors that don’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon:

  • Additive manufacturing. Also known as 3D printing, additive manufacturing along with computer-aided design (CAD) has done something designers in the past would’ve considered impossible: it has made drafting virtually obsolete. Think of how rapid computing technology transformed traditional drafting techniques; in less than a generation, CAD systems took the tried-and-true drafting workstation (table, mechanical pencils, T-squares, etc.) and replaced it with computer software. A similar advancement is taking place to traditional forms of manufacturing with additive manufacturing, which has improved significantly in recent years.

  • The Internet of Things (IoT). Smart homes, wearable technology, home health monitoring: Directly or indirectly, some of the most impressive advancements in product design and development have occurred with IoT technology. Connectivity is a primary concern for product developers now more than ever. IoT will continue to drive the world of product development with ever-increasing demand for faster, more seamless connectivity to local and cloud networks. Promising IoT products include connected pill dispensers (real-time data collection to monitor missed doses), “smart” clothes with monitoring systems to gather and react to body temperature, walking and running speed, etc., and delivery drones.

  • The VR revolution. Virtual reality (VR) products have, in some ways, already revolutionized new product design and development. But the future is even more exciting. Many VR design firms now focus on stand-alone VR systems, which are more portable and interactive than ever before.

    Think of a VR device without clunky hardware requirements and just a mobile phone app and Wi-Fi to use; this technology will define the future of VR connectivity. Plus, enhanced mapping techniques will soon allow multi-layered, amazingly detailed “mirror worlds” to use existing physical space as the template for endless variations. Take a typical landscape – a cluster of nearby trees, for example – and imagine the objects as animals, buildings, or other objects; the future of virtual reality will look more realistic, even as the possible VR outputs increase exponentially.

    The future of VR shows promise in real-world, practical applications as well. Tomorrow’s product designers may have a “virtual design platform” where they can test everything from material strength to user interface features – all without using tangible physical assets. Thanks to VR’s flexible environment, designers could see how wearable, personal accessories would fit and function with each design change, on a whole range of body sizes.

These are just a few areas of new product development to look for in the coming months and years. Additive manufacturing, IoT expansion, and VR technology will continue to highlight impressive breakthroughs, and these techniques should continue to drive innovation in everything from virtual reality applications to regular widgets.

About the Author

Simplexity Product Development was founded in 2005 and, with four West Coast offices, specializes in the design of hardware such as wearables, medical devices, connected consumer products, and diagnostic instruments. With engineering and design services across the entire product development continuum, Simplexity’s core concept is to simplify the complex. A collaborative approach, comprehensive product design capability and innovative thinking is reflected in the company’s portfolio. To learn more about Simplexity, contact their product development team today.