Prototyping in Design Thinking: Volumetric Models

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volumetric model

The volumetric model is a Design Thinking prototyping tool. A template is created when you want to make an idea tangible, in other words, get it out of the conceptual context and turn it into something concrete that can be validated.

Learn how to apply it in this post.

The Volumetric Model

A volumetric model allows the three-dimensional visualization of a concept for prototyping purposes, stimulating the collection of reviews from users and the consequent refinement. The representations of a product may vary in fidelity levels, going from low – with few details – to high, which looks like the final product, and it may also provide texture and other details (such as sliding buttons), although it is not yet functional.

In addition, it helps "sell" the project to the company’s upper echelons making its development easier.

It can be constructed with simple materials (such as paper, cardboard, play dough, etc.), or it can be more elaborate and use several materials, as well as being painted in a way that simulates the color and finishing of the product being manufactured.

Case — Analog iPad

While seeking to introduce a culture of innovation in the daily lives of employees of a major bank, one of the issues addressed was the interference in physical spaces. During the immersion phase, we noticed that the staff had issues communicating ideas amongst themselves in for informal meetings, so, they often resorted to a linear format that did not allow for collaborative construction with their colleagues.

In order to test a way to deal with this problem, one of the prototypes created was the Analog iPad – small white boards adapted to the workspace – which aimed to make the visualization of ideas and the interactions among employees easier. The analog iPads had a support tripod and a hook so they could be supported on the table and be attached to the cubicles, it also had a handle, so they could be taken to meetings away from the desks.

Although they were designed to stimulate the visualization and construction of ideas, we realized that many prototypes were used as "signs" in the work environment, displaying content that was not work related. So, they enabled informal interactions among colleagues and helped communication among employees become more relaxed.

Tangible Results

Users have commented on the size of the product and the ability to record and capture the content generated during meetings that contributed to the evolution of the solution.

The test also showed that, as well as a tool for collaboration, the staff needed a relaxing element in their daily work lives, and the Analog iPad could serve both these purposes.

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