Many readers and clients ask us about how to come up with a good idea for a new device and how to carry on the product development process. Well, we want to show you in this article how we came up with a programmable keyboard idea (also known as macropad) and what results we got with it.
Basically, the most important thing is the ideation phase, this is what will guarantee the success of your product in a specific market.
Think about this, if you didn’t carry out a good discovery phase, that is, the proper research on features, potential users, or use cases, you won’t achieve the necessary results when the product or device is built.
Not even the most well designed product will convince people to buy it if it doesn’t solve a specific problem or need. We talked about this in our guide to product development.
Product development idea
New product development processes require you to start with a great idea, and this depends on many factors:
- Identifying the needs of a specific niche.
- The problem you intend to solve.
- Feedback or insights from a focus group.
We knew there was an increasing demand and offer of customized keyboards that could be programmed to perform certain tasks; gaming, productivity, design.
However, during the research and discovery phase, we realized the main features of this type of product in the market was automation. However, they normally don’t have the option to connect via wifi or bluetooth to other devices, also, they are not open source.
As we normally are active participants in the startup’s ecosystem, and while we provide hardware product design services, and develop IoT solutions, we consider it is important to be part of some makers and innovation communities.
That’s why we also promote open hardware and believe in the power of the team and the community to create great products. Because of that perspective, we like to create open source devices that allow people to modify them as they wish.
So, when we identified the possibility of creating an open source macropad, we went for it.
We started this phase of product development with concept design; it is basically trying to build the device with low cost materials. You can use plastic, boxes, cardboard papers, any material that can provide you with good insight about the feasibility of your product.
After the concept was tested, we advanced to designing and developing the electronic board for our new macropad.
The PCB is the first part of the development process, it is where you guarantee your electronic product will work as expected. The image above shows a little about the process.
The product development process requires a lot of iterations. The picture above wasn’t the first version we made of the PCB for our device. Rather, we wanted to show the final result of many hours of hard work needed to develop our own open source keyboard.
Among the product development process steps, testing the electronics plays a vital role for guaranteeing the features of the device will work as planned.
We carried out several tests with our new device. As a result, we had to do some improvements and changes in some components and design of the PCB. The testing phase is crucial for advancing to the next stage.
In this phase we made a soft prototype of the keyboard. This process is necessary to obtain a preliminary functional version of the device. You can do this by using different rapid prototyping methods.
This rapid prototype was tested several hours by our engineers. And once we had a satisfactory version, it was time to advance to the next step.
Sidenote: All of these advances are possible thanks to the implementation of the product development process with agile methodology.
Agile product development methodology
At DeepSea Developments, we use the agile methodology for developing products. This methodology allows us to build products by using short iterations, also this allows us to get constant feedback and incremental improvements.
Hardware development companies need to find creative ways to deliver fast results, that’s why we put great emphasis on the product development process.
Do you need to plan the budget of your prototype?
Download our Prototyping Costs Quick Guide, analyze in which stage your product or device is, and plan your budget for product development accordingly.
Detailed engineering phase
This is where the product development process reaches the highest peak, since a lot of iterations and testing have been done to guarantee the device works as expected.
This phase is perfect for making final adjustments, and has the potential to give you as a result, the MVP, that is, Minimum Viable Product; it is a product or device that has certain features that are acceptable for the market, and that give it potential to be sold there.
Of course, the Minimum Viable Product needs to be evaluated in order to confirm the product development process has been successful; we wrote an article about strategies for MVP testing that you can check and use for your own project.
Getting customers for your new product
We had a nice prototype, a good design and a great product. Now we needed to find a way to market this open source product to get enough customers or funding for manufacturing the keyboard.
Maybe the goal with your device is to get a first batch of several tens of units or a high scale production. With DeepDeck, our first batch was 300 units.
One of the ways to market your new product is to know your audience, and find out how interested they are in the product development you made. We knew our target audience would be a “maker market”, that is, a usual early adopter niche that likes devices that still look “raw” or with a cool “industrial” aesthetic, as opposed to final consumers that would expect an aesthetically commercial version of a product.
First, we decided to start a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdsupply with a 5 thousand dollars goal. And second, we targeted specific niches that we thought would be interested in getting our newest product.
As a result, we got over 13 thousand dollars in funding. This process led us to the conclusion there were users interested in the features of an open source macropad, and willing to pay for them.
This also serves as a first market validation indicating that it is a good idea to continue developing this macropad and other related products that can generate differentiation in the segment.
We hope this practical guide for product development is useful for your business idea. As a hardware software development firm, we understand the importance of having the best engineers and a great teamwork to deliver high quality products.
If you have any product idea, or you already have a prototype and want to take it to the next level, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with our experts by clicking the button below.