A prototype is an original type, form, or instance of some thing serving as a typical example, basis, epitome, or standard for other things of the same category. Some prototypes are used to find defects.
Prototypes are build for different reasons, there are different kinds of prototypes:
- Proof of principle prototype (or model): Shows that something can be done. These kinds of prototypes are built to test an aspect of the design. These prototypes do not look like the finished product, in most cases. Such prototypes are used to show that certain design options will not work.
- Form-study prototype (model): This tries to show what the finished design will look like, but without the function. Such prototypes allow to take decisions about the exact shape, size, or ergonomic properties.
- Visual prototype: These will look like the actual product, and are used for market research. They do not have any of the functionality of the final product.
- Functional prototype: These will look and act like the final product as much as possible. For cost reasons, they may be smaller in size though.
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