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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second In this video, we’re going to talk about how to use some of the methods you’ve learned and apply them to a product that has a hardware component. Here are a few focal points we’re going to talk about. One is, yes, you can do these things with hardware. I got the question one or the other time I do hardwares or I do medicals, so I can’t do any of this. Right? And the answer is, No. There is a lot of it you can do. Two. We’re going to look at how we create flexible versus inflexible UI’s, emphasis on flexible ones.

Skip to 0 minutes and 29 seconds Third, we’re going to look at, how we can decompose a really complicated big product into small pieces where that are more amenable to some of the methods that you’ve learned here. And finally, we’re going to look at how you can think through the whole product experience to use some of these techniques and innovate kind of around the product. First of all, yes, you can. These are some hardware products that were put on Indiegogo and they raised tons of money. And this is a great way to test a hardware product. If you build it they may not come. That’s the lesson of Lean Startup and the idea is to generate demand signals before you spend a lot of money building something.

Skip to 1 minute and 10 seconds And yes, you see right, these gentlemen in Australia raised 13 million dollars on this kind of new type of beehive. I’ve used it. There are some issues with the African beetle, Aethina Tumida invading it but overall, it’s a pretty awesome beehive. I got to say and this is another example here water sear. This is a device that creates water out of thin air supposedly. Does it sound a little impossible? Yes. Did I just send them 250 bucks to see if it works. I did. Because it sounds so awesome. They look credible and we’ll just see what happens.

Skip to 1 minute and 45 seconds The lesson here is, not go use Kickstarter or go use Indiegogo, but that there are ways to reach your audience and see if they’re interested beforehand. If you if this isn’t right for your company, webinars are a great way to gauge interest. Hold the webinar on the topic you’re thinking of building a product around and see how many people come. Trade shows or breakout sessions within trade shows are another great venue to do this if that’s more applicable to what you do. Flexible versus inflexible UI’s. It’s easy to innovate on hardware if you have an interface that you can constantly update and you see this all over the place. And here we see the innovation intensive interface of the Tesla.

Skip to 2 minutes and 27 seconds There’s a giant screen here, there’s a giant screen here and they update these all the time, several times a month. And here, we see the dashboard of a Mercedes and they obviously, it’s not amenable to change. These, Yes, I know these these LCDs are are very expensive to build but I think that I mean for instance Tesla or some of the other products, that have these like the nest thermostat or office telephones that have an LCD, they’ve decided that the desirability driver is worth investing in these LCDs and that they’ll they’ll make the feasibility and viability work around that.

Skip to 3 minutes and 4 seconds But that said, LCD’s aren’t the only way, voice interfaces are coming of age and the screen that the user interacts with your product through doesn’t necessarily need to be on the product itself. I mean, I I have nest thermostat, it has an LCD on the front of it, but I also have a nest smoke alarm and CO2 alarm and that I just interact with through an app and it has no interface on the front of it. And that works great too. So that that may be an option for you. And the point is that, you think about three things here.

Skip to 3 minutes and 32 seconds One is make sure your interface is task appropriate, I mean, if it doesn’t need an LCD, don’t put one obviously. Make sure, it’s amenable to doing updates because if you can’t update these things readily or the customer prevents you from updating them or they have to initiate the update but they don’t then obviously that this thing doesn’t help you. And thirdly, make sure that it’s, if you can make sure, it’s flexible and amenable to change and you’ll find yourself a lot of room to innovate and iterate. This thing obviously doesn’t have a lot of screen, real estate, a teeny bit here, but probably not super amenable to updates. But if we look at a big huge industrial machine like this.

Skip to 4 minutes and 10 seconds I mean, we could still build a prototype, say of this part and say to a user, hey, on this prototype, can you show me how you would wiggle the Googleplex or whatever this thing does and you can try it out and you can see if it works, you can run design sprints around those things. So, functional decomposition of certain things is a great way to test these things out, even if they are a big huge assembly that takes years to design and build. You can get ahead of that and you can try things early.

Skip to 4 minutes and 37 seconds And then finally, if there’s kind of the whole product and then the the solution is that whole product and there’s your core product and it’s you know a medical device, it’s got to be you know frozen and takes two years to build and you can’t touch it. And there’s still going to be other stuff like, let’s say, you have a novel device for administering something that nurses or technicians need to learn how to use, well-the the documentation on that and the ways you explain it to them through you know a piece of paper or an app or a video those things for instance you probably can change more regularly than you can change the core product, so do look at those opportunities.

Skip to 5 minutes and 15 seconds I get questions at talks or classes. Well, you know, I do hardware, so I can’t do any of this stuff. I think they’re kind of asking me, do I have an excuse not to do any of this? Because it seems hard. And the answer is, No, you don’t. You should give it a try. Not all of these things will be applicable to all products, but but many of them will probably be applicable to some products. So, if you work in hardware and you’re wondering how to apply some of the methods we talked about, I would consider it through through these lenses here.

Skip to 5 minutes and 41 seconds I think you may find a few places where you can innovate possibly a bit more than maybe you thought.

Managing a product with hardware

Watch Alex Cowan discuss how to apply the methods you have learned in this course to a project that has a hardware component. Have you worked with a product that has a hardware component? Think about some of the successes and/or difficulties you faced due to that hardware component.

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This video is from the free online course:

Digital Product Management

Darden School of Business, University of Virginia