Following Research and Problem definition, RedOwl will employ some or all of the following ideation techniques to help construct a conceptual solution to the problem.
Brainstorming is a well-known technique for generating new ideas. It involves a group of people, (often product designers,) who gather to generate new ideas. The group is usually lead by a facilitator. The concept is to table any and all ideas, and for the group to expand on those ideas with as few limitations as possible.
One of the drawbacks of traditional brainstorming is that only a few people in the room tend to do most of the talking, and end up controlling the flow of ideas. This bias is often referred to “anchoring”.
To avoid this, several other, non-traditional methods of brainstorming have become popular including…
- Where participants only write their ideas down and inputs are voiced by the facilitator.
- This method of brainstorming has become very popular; the group is gathered on-line, and individuals contribute in an open web-based forum.
- In this format, participants are asked to imagine how a famous person might think or respond to an issue or problem. The idea is to have participants think outside their normal perspective.
- Star bursting is a form of brainstorming where only relevant questions about a topic are recorded. The technique gets its name from the use of a six-sided star that is drawn on a white board, where the questions “who, what, why, where, when and how” are labelled. Participants attempt to develop relevant questions under these broad categories.
- Brain dumping involves spending 3 to 10 minutes coming up with one idea per page or sticky note, and then presenting these ideas to a colleague.
- Brain writing involves 2 or more researchers. Each person writes an idea at the top of a page, and then hands it on to the next person. The next person then elaborates/builds/expands on the idea. This process is repeated for up to 10 iterations.
- Like Brain-writing, but the researchers move from work-station to work-station. This promotes some physical movement, which tends to foster more ideas and interactions.
- A technique where broad concepts are shared with the brainstorming group, the group is then dis-banded except for 2 or 3 people. This small group is allowed to brainstorm for a given period, then additional group members are added back in one-at-a-time. The newcomer’s ideas are heard first. The process continues until the entire group is re-assembled.This is useful method, as it tends to eliminate the “anchoring” bias, but it is time consuming.
- Building or creating early prototypes of a product concept is critical in the design process. Early prototypes need not be elaborate or expensive. Crude can be good. Prototypes can be 2D, video clips, sound bites or physical objects made from almost anything. Cardboard, foam board, foam or clay are all good materials for early prototypes. More elaborate prototypes can be 3D printed or made from temporary non-production molds. Early prototypes effective in conveying concepts quickly to design team members, and can be used in focus groups, etc.
- Product Dimensioning is a well-known technique of analyzing existing products with a view to improving them. It involves breaking down an existing product or process into as many sub elements as possible. (For example, even a simple object like a coffee cup has a base, a handle, a rim and possibly designs or graphics outside and inside.) Researchers attempt to make this kind of list exhaustive for any given object or process.
- Then a checklist of possible modifications to those elements is applied. (Can it be made larger, smaller, magnified, made lighter, etc?) Although this technique has been around since the 1960s, Redowl still finds it a very effective research and ideation tool.
- The time tested method of conveying ideas on paper remains perhaps the most effective technique of conveying concepts to clients or other designers. It is a great way to explore different forms, details and concepts quickly. It is generally faster and more “free-flowing” than using CAD models to convey ideas. New tablets allow sketches to be stored and distributed electronically, making them even more effective.
3D Models and Renderings
- RedOwl uses the SolidWorks suite to create 3D models of its concepts and designs. 3D modeling allows the designer to further resolve the fit, form and functionality of the product. The 3D models are also used to create photorealistic renderings to help convey more finalized concepts to clients. Renderings are very useful for giving the client a better understanding of how the product will look, feel and function before a material prototype is created.
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