The Prototype (2022)
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The Prototype (2022)
The selected prototypes have been listed in random order. If you click on each link, you can see how they were made. For some of the prototypes, you can even try them out yourself and download the files.
A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process. It is a term used in a variety of contexts, including semantics, design, electronics, and software programming. A prototype is generally used to evaluate a new design to enhance precision by system analysts and users. Prototyping serves to provide specifications for a real, working system rather than a theoretical one. In some design workflow models, creating a prototype (a process sometimes called materialization) is the step between the formalization and the evaluation of an idea.
A prototype can also mean a typical example of something such as in the use of the derivation 'prototypical'. This is a useful term in identifying objects, behaviours and concepts which are considered the accepted norm and is analogous with terms such as stereotypes and archetypes.
Engineers and prototype specialists attempt to minimize the impact of these differences on the intended role for the prototype. For example, if a visual prototype is not able to use the same materials as the final product, they will attempt to substitute materials with properties that closely simulate the intended final materials.
It is important to recognize that by their very nature, prototypes represent some compromise from the final production design. This is due to not just the skill and choices of the designer(s), but the inevitable inherent limitations of a prototype due to the "map-territory relation". Just as a map is a reduced abstraction representing far more detailed actual territory, or "the menu represents the meal" but cannot capture all the detail of the actual delivered food: a prototype is a necessarily inexact and limited approximation of a "real" final product.
Further, prototypers make both deliberate and unintended choices and tradeoffs for reasons ranging from cost/time savings to what they consider "important" vs. "trivial" aspects to focus design attention and execution on. Due to differences in materials, processes and design fidelity, it is possible that a prototype may fail to perform acceptably although the production design may have been sound. Conversely, and somewhat counter-intuitively: prototypes may actually perform acceptably but the production design and outcome may prove unsuccessful, as prototyping materials and processes may actually outperform their production counterparts.
In general, it can be expected that individual prototype costs will be substantially greater than the final production costs due to inefficiencies in materials and processes. Prototypes are also used to revise the design for the purposes of reducing costs through optimization and refinement.
It is possible to use prototype testing to reduce the risk that a design may not perform as intended, however prototypes generally cannot eliminate all risk. There are pragmatic and practical limitations to the ability of a prototype to match the intended final performance of the product and some allowances and engineering judgement are often required before moving forward with a production design.
In technology research, a technology demonstrator is a prototype serving as proof-of-concept and demonstration model for a new technology or future product, proving its viability and illustrating conceivable applications.
In large development projects, a testbed is a platform and prototype development environment for rigorous experimentation and testing of new technologies, components, scientific theories and computational tools.
The most common use of the word prototype is a functional, although experimental, version of a non-military machine (e.g., automobiles, domestic appliances, consumer electronics) whose designers would like