Our product development process is a well-defined path to get from concept to finished product. Sometimes that process gets cut short for one reason or another – in this case startup Biome was looking for a proof of concept design to prove out a larger scale model.
We began our process by conducting a scoping study to determine what was included in the design. The scoping study identified what would be included in the design and what wouldn’t. It also helped both parties understand how the development process would work and what it would be focused on – the requirements and specifications that would drive design.
From there, we began to put together a design. Driving factors were functionality, sustainability, cost, size, power, and aesthetics. This drove us into a couple of different arenas including materials like wood and plastic and nixing metals or ceramics to keep cost down and be able to manage the sustainability factor easily. Some initial sketches focused on the core of the design to ensure functionality – followed by fully constrained models that would help prototype the design. This gave us a design that included a laser cut wood shroud, with plastic internals – and the inclusion of small fans to help circulate air to amplify the air purification of the plant inside.
Developing a prototype for a consumer product such as this can be challenging as the goal is to use readily accessible materials without sacrificing functionality or aesthetics. For this prototype we began by laying out the living hinge design on 1/8” wood so that we could fold it into the teardrop shape. This also allowed for a cutout for a small USB powered fan to be added to amplify the air purification. A 3D Printed basin was designed as a source for water for the plant. An off-the-shelf basket was used to hold the plant in place.
Although this design was a good working prototype of a reimagined powered air-purifying desktop planter – ultimately Biome pivoted to a larger wall based model. In this case the product development cycle was cut short at alpha prototype, but the company still received the benefit of understanding what a product such as this would look and feel like, allowing them to have confidence in their pivot and new business model.