A Spooky Design Story: Dr. Frankenstein’s Prototype

October 31, 2018

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Since it is Halloween, let’s consider Dr. Frankenstein’s monster from a product development perspective. Or, more accurately, Dr. Frankenstein’s prototype.

Catalyst has brought countless projects “back to life” for clients that have previously invested considerable time and cost only to realize their design prototype is not functionally marketable or cannot be cost-effectively manufactured. Similar to Dr. Frankenstein’s project, the break-through concept and technology is sound.

However, some assistance (and not from Igor or I-gor if you like Mel Brooks) is needed to create a stable, ergonomic, aesthetic, functional and manufacturable product in a cost-effective way.

This is where Dr. Frankenstein’s project stalled. What if he had used a product development firm that was capable of taking his vision to reality, instead of trying to launch after his early basement prototype? The finished project might have turned out completely different and more socially-acceptable, eliminating numerous angry mobs.

How to design an aesthetic, functional, and manufacturable prototype

Using what we know from Dr. Frankenstein’s notes and countless bad movies, let’s reassess how Dr. Frankenstein could have made a more successful monster. What would the scope of work (SOW) look like? What are the key considerations to the project?

Here’s how Catalyst would start:

DESIGN OBJECTIVE:

  • Create life from recycled parts for the betterment of mankind

IDENTIFY: Research and Market Feasibility

  • Determine feasibility of indestructible humanoid made of recycled, biodegradable, and readily-available components.

  • Consider potential competitive market forces, such as sentient robots and zombies.

  • Investigate potential markets to include, military opportunities, Hollywood stunt professionals, contact sports, blind date companions, and childcare.

DEFINE: Brainstorming, Ideation, Concept Refinement

  • Establish fundamental needs of the device. Does not require food, water, or toilet (as far as we know), but may need high voltage at startup. May require companionship; look at concepts that facilitate multiple units for future market growth.

  • Enhance the ergonomic and aesthetic considerations of the flat-top head. While useful for storage and carrying items, the initial design may collect water during rainstorms. Consider slope angles for drainage and potential market opportunities for contemporary hairstyles, cup holder, or an aftermarket line of hats.

  • Neck electrode location to be reconsidered as this will no doubt make turtlenecks and neckties uncomfortable (note: Based on preliminary testing, it is best to keep monster as comfortable as possible). Also a benefit for U.L. approval for open terminals.

  • Create photorealistic renderings for color testing of pastels and textures— Green skin tone could be negatively received and have a very limited market acceptance. Camouflage may limit product to only military markets, however, offering a larger color pallet could open holiday and sports team branding opportunities.

REALIZE: Engineering and Design for Manufacturing

  • Refine the communication system. Current system of grunts and growls can be easily translated to phone-app commands via Bluetooth. Possible reason for previous village destruction and rampages may have been due to a failure to communicate. Consider tri-lingual instructions to help creature assembly once out of the box.

  • Investigate alternative specifications and selection for sourced components such as the control system and processor. This may include high quality yet cost effective brains verses super computers. Dr. Frankenstein learned that open-sourced abnormal brains have proven unreliable in preliminary testing.

  • Reconsider electrical requirements of manufacturing. While apparently successful, utilizing lightning as a power source is both unpredictable and possibly hazardous. Apparently 1.21 “jigawatts” of electricity are required to produce each creature. Investigate renewable sources such as wind and solar power (consider a Go Green campaign which might be a possible tie in to skin tone - see skin notes above). Investigate possible copyright/patent conflicts with the Jolly Green Giant.

  • Anticipate more refinement in assembly design to improve fit and finish of the components to hide stitches, zippers, scars, etc. Fastening components will need to be integrated and not visible to maintain a marketable design aesthetic. Stiches are outdated; staples and adhesives are the current trend in monster medical fastening.

  • Develop additional prototype units to field test and refine mechanisms, durability, and reliability around open flames.

  • Optimize the components to be more readily accessible for duplicating design. This will improve the device temperament and decrease the cost in volume. Convert elements to manufacturable parts in plastic to control consistency, quality and better cost over custom components. Soft-touch resins will warm market acceptance over hard, crusty, deteriorating organic components.

  • Refine the assembly process such that previously built creatures can be trained to assemble future monsters since there is absolutely nothing that can go wrong with that plan. Or, develop long term partnership and future product offering strategy with Catalyst for new development. This would free Dr. Frankenstein to focus on his core competency of bringing inanimate objects back to life.

Halloween is a good time to remember the downfalls of Dr. Frankenstein’s monstrous project. Avoid angry mobs of management and consumers, and contact Catalyst for your next prototype project.

View our portfolio on our website or, for more scary designs, read about the 7 Deadly Sins of Product Design.