Next Article in Journal
Challenges while Updating Planning Parameters of an ERP System and How a Simulation-Based Support System Can Support Material Planners
Next Article in Special Issue
A Possibilistic Approach for Aggregating Customer Opinions in Product Development
Previous Article in Journal
“Space, the Final Frontier”: How Good are Agent-Based Models at Simulating Individuals and Space in Cities?
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessTechnical Note
Systems 2016, 4(1), 8; doi:10.3390/systems4010008

An Approach to Represent and Communicate Product or System Design Ideas at the Fuzzy-Front End of the Design Process

Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Landbergstraat 15, 2628 CE Delft, The Netherlands
Academic Editor: Paul G. Ranky
Received: 29 September 2015 / Revised: 13 January 2016 / Accepted: 19 January 2016 / Published: 26 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Product, Process, System Design Review Methods and Tools)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3186 KB, uploaded 26 January 2016]   |  


The primary challenge underscored and dealt with was how to represent the product’s or system’s use environment and processes and to communicate ideas and envisaged use contexts effectively at the fuzzy-front early stages of the design process. The work focused specifically on complex products or systems with physical, software and/or cyber components, and the question was how to represent, e.g., the operations of the product or system and the interactions between the user and the product or system betimes in the period between when an opportunity for a new product or system is first considered, and when the idea is judged to be ready to enter formal development. Several approaches are currently being used to express and to communicate ideas at the conceptualization, embodiment, and detail design stages of the design process, but none of them address the challenge described above. We therefore adapted and extended the abstract prototyping concept to allow for total representation of ideas, as well as of use environments and processes early on. Extended abstract prototyping (Ext-AP) entails using combinations of low and high-fidelity prototyping techniques to create cognitive virtual representations, which represent and help designers to express ideas and use contexts—namely, what complex product or system would be like, and how its users would interact with it. Real-world product development case studies have been used to demonstrate how the Ext-AP technique can be put into practice. One of the main observations from the application case studies is that the Ext-AP technique enabled the subjects to express ideas and use contexts more effectively early on. In addition, the extended abstract prototypes (Ext-APs) offered a low cost, yet effective solution for expressing ideas, representing concepts and using contexts, and allowed the subjects to think divergently, make associations, easily and quickly construct, combine, and evaluate alternatives, and work together on multiple ideas simultaneously. View Full-Text
Keywords: concepts representation; prototyping; collaboration; co-design; conceptualization; extended abstract prototyping concepts representation; prototyping; collaboration; co-design; conceptualization; extended abstract prototyping

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Opiyo, E.Z. An Approach to Represent and Communicate Product or System Design Ideas at the Fuzzy-Front End of the Design Process. Systems 2016, 4, 8.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Systems EISSN 2079-8954 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top