Your first steps in hardware development

So, you have that one great idea that you want to make into reality, but you’re stuck because you’re not sure what to do next. You know all the technologies that exist and are available for the realization of your idea, but you just can’t figure out how to go on with the development of your product.
Where to start? What’s are the steps that you should take in order to have your product as soon as possible?  
Well, the first step is to check if your idea can indeed work with the existing technologies, that is to create a proof of the concept. The best proof of concept is a working prototype.   

Why do you need a proof of concept?

Prototypes are done fast, they give you quick results and, if needed, you can adjust your idea promptly. Long story short you need to FAIL FASTER! And what a better time to fail than at the very beginning so you can get back to the drawing board. The process is iterative, but this way you’ll be saving both your time and your money in a long run. Although iterative, by trying different approaches, before you know it, you’ll be able to make the next step in hardware development, that is Minimum Viable Product.

fail faster

Checking if the idea is in fact working might be the main purpose of doing the proof of the concept, but it’s not the only one. The proof of the concept can be used for rough estimates of the production costs as well. It has all the main components that are needed for your product to work. That means, that you can get a rough estimate of the costs for production of a final product.
A working hardware prototype can help you better visualize your product and get a better feel for it. At this stage, any changes won’t have a huge impact on development time.

What is an electronic hardware prototype?

An electronic hardware prototype is made by using the development boards and other electrical components like sensors, actuators and indicators (for those less tech savvy people out there, yes, Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebones and others are not just for fun and hobbies, but they can be quite useful tools as well). This is a low-cost model of your product. It has all the functions of a final product but the costs of producing it are reduced to a minimum.

What does an electronic hardware prototype look like?

Depending on the requirements of a product, the hardware prototype can take many shapes and forms, but for the main part, besides the development boards and electrical components, there is a housing that all of those parts need to be fitted in. The best practice for developing a housing for a hardware prototype is 3D printing.

Well, there you go, if you have a breakthrough idea and you were wondering what to do next, now you might now. Of course, nobody wants to go broke trying to make their idea a reality and nobody has to. Formilab offers great quality electronic hardware prototyping for as low as $2000. I doubt you can find more affordable quality service of this sort anywhere else.