Feasibility Study, to kickstart your product development project

by | SLIMDESIGN | Last updated : Oct 6, 2020

We will kickstart your project and perform a complete analysis of all the key areas surrounding your product .development. Within two weeks we create all the insights needed to make well-informed decisions (and start-ups can use the information to create a convincing business plan or pitch deck). The activities and focus of the feasibility study will be defined together. You can also download a feasibility study report we did for Panasonic if you would like to view a more in-depth view example.

Often the most important aspects are:

  • Strategy (business model, competition, functionality)
  • Functional & Technical Requirements,
  • Component Selection and Product Cost Price
  • Component Configuration and Design Concept
  • Project Planning (phases, resources, timeline)
  • Risk and Success Assessment 
  • Development Budget
  • Overall Investment 

Budget Indication

Innovation & Complexity 

A big part of the required budget depends on the project complexity. This is closely related to the level of innovation that is needed. New, not validated, technologies and contradicting requirements require more time spent on testing and optimization. Some examples are: 

  • Long battery life vs small and lightweight: Extending the product lifetime requires an innovative chip choice, advanced power management, intermediate RF communication, etc.
  • Low-cost price / large volume production: Requires low-cost components, a reduction of parts, and integration of functions. In addition, the minimization of risks increases the validation and test period.
  • Certification: Some product categories, like medical devices, require certifications that take time to complete

Production Partner

For an electronic product, it makes a big difference if we need to create a fully engineered and validated design or whether we can co-develop the product with an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM). The ODM already produces similar devices and they can do a large part of the final engineering.

Our priority is to maximize your project success. Often the feasibility study is needed to make well-informed decisions. Because these decisions will have a big impact on the overall development budget, we give rough budget bandwidths before we start the study. You can download a free example here, and read more about all the aspects below

Example Feasibility Study

4G Security Camera for Panasonic

Project Brief

Panasonic acquired a Dutch video surveillance platform. In the deal, Panasonic promised to develop the first 4G security camera for them to facilitate their growth. But due to internal politics, Panasonic had problems starting the project and meeting the deadline. The decision was made to outsource the project to SLIMDESIGN, and because the requirements and overall cost price were not clear, we started the feasibility study.

Team

For this project, we assembled a team of four people. The product designer did the strategy and analysis, and the Mechanical + Electrical Engineers worked together to translate the requirements into a component selection, volume configurations, and cost price. The project manager supervised the activities and created the planning and budget indication.

1. Strategy

In this phase, we review the information from the client or analyze the use-case and competition ourselves.

1a. Functionality 

When an event is registered, a small clip is sent over 4G to the server. Here it can be analyzed or sent directly to e-mail, SMS, or App. This enables the owner to either act or communicate. Development needed: Video analyses in the cloud, IOS, and Android App.

1b. Use-case analyses

The way the product is used defines a lot of the requirements. 

A 4G camera is used when there is no Wifi, or as a secondary security fallback. In both cases, it makes sense for it to be battery powered or to act as a backup. To increase the lifetime, we analyzed low power 4G and video modules and looked at other options including: Like low sleep state and extra sensors to trigger the video recording. Question is, how quickly it can power-up and stream the video? To answer these questions, we validated the most promising modules by ordering and testing the development kits.

1c. Competitor analyses

We analyze the competition in terms of their design, functionality, and retail price. We also estimate what future developments will be. In a discussion with the client, we define what we will aim to achieve together.

2. Specification loop

The conclusions from the strategy phase will give input for the first step in our specification loop. With this in mind, we can analyze the main components (lens, video module, 4G, sensors, connectivity, battery).

2a. Functional Specification

Using a functional diagram, we define the top-level interaction:


2b. Technical Specification

Requirements (simplified)

  • Video 1080P, Full HD, 15FPS on Wifi, Dual-stream
  • Lens 140 deg viewing angle
  • Night Vision IR cut switch, IR LEDs 10 meter
  • Sound Two-way audio, high sensitivity
  • Sensor Movement, PIR, 10 meters, Light Sensor
  • Storage SD card
  • LTE 3G / 4G, Regulation, Sim card
  • Wifi 2.4 or/and 5.0
  • RF antenna Chip / PCB / Ceramic or FPC
  • Battery Lifetime, removable, material, size, intelligence
  • Charging Dock, Micro USB, speed
  • Data offload USB, speed
  • User Interface On/record led
  • Buttons On/off, paring, reset
  • Magnet Mount
  • Temperature -20 to +50 degrees
  • Resistance Water, dust (IP rating), UV resistant
  • Tests Drop test 2.5 meter
  • Regulations CE, FcC, UL, Rohs
  • Video Analyses To avoid false alarms

2c. Cost Price Validation

Bill of Materials (Minimum Order Quantity 10K)

Our accumulated experience with designing and developing numerous electronic projects, gives us an extensive knowledge of the component costs and the ability to make a well-informed estimation of the overall cost price. The biggest variable is the production quantities.

2d. Volume Validation

To get an indication of the volume, we create different component configurations. This is a combined effort from both the electronic and mechanical engineers. Some sample configuration questions may be: Which components need to be close together and on the same PCB, where will the heat be dissipated, where do we position the antennas, which lens will we use, etc. The different options are modeled in 3D CAD and visualized so that they can be discussed in the team.

2e. Design Validation

One or more variations are used to create a design to see how the main body could look and what the overall size will be.

3. Project Planning

We use an integrated, lean, development method where design, mechanical and electrical engineering are seamlessly interwoven.

3a. Phases, Timeline & Deliverables

We create a detailed excel spreadsheet, giving an estimate of the time and effort we will need to develop the product (to accommodate uncertainties, we will give a minimum and maximum). 

4. Risk & Success Assessment

The development of every complex consumer product has it’s associated risks. The success depends on a lot of factors, including: availability, marketing, cost-price, quality, and most importantly how much-added value it brings to the customer. 

4a. Tecnical

1. Heat Dissipation
The biggest risk we see is in the heat dissipation of the Image Sensor and 4G Module. When it is streaming high-quality video in the sun and high temperature, there is the risk of overheating and burning 70 deg centigrade. We think that an Aluminium heat sink is needed.
2. Video Module
Another risk is the video module. It looks promising, but it still needs to be validated. Do they have all the software libraries, and how is their development support?
3. RF Antenna Regulations and Design
In what category will the provider place the device, and which regulations do we need to apply? Due to the different antenna’s Wifi and 3G/4G in a small device, we will need to involve external RF experts to optimize the antenna performance. 

4b. Software & Application

Optimizing the software and App takes a lot of time, effort, and testing to create a smooth user experience. Often, this determines the launch date, especially if you want to add video analyses to create smart alarms.

4c. Regulations

Speed vs Panasonic Internal Regulations To meet the deadlines, we need to develop fast. This means we cannot work in the same way Panasonic does things. Because we do not yet know all the internal quality specifications, we may need to do more final validation that we would like to.

4d. Success Assessment

1. Being able to place a camera anywhere without the need of Wifi is very advantageous. The fact that providers have a lot of extra unused bandwidth that they like to fill will help because they will help to sell the product.
2. To be the first that can do this well, will be a great benefit.
3. The added value is clear, and the push from Panasonic and major providers will benefit. The recurring revenues make it possible to sell the product for a relatively competitive price.

5. Development Budget

With the knowledge we gained during the feasibility analyses, we have better insight into the innovation and project complexity. This helps to create the development budget estimation.

We give a fixed budget for finalizing the Strategy and Specification Phase and provide bandwidth indication for the next phases. These depend on the choices made during the project.

Other Development Costs

When you are a start-up, there are also other costs to consider (internal/personal salaries, housing, marketing, inventory, etc.)

6. Additional Support (optional)

  • Start-up & funding advice, We can help create additional information, review the presentation, and give advice on how to attract investors.
  • Reference, Our track record in developing complex electronic products for multinationals helps convince investors and other partners.
  • Introduction, We are happy to introduce the project to our wide network of consumer electronic companies, and investors
  • Visualizations, Real looking computer renderings, in-use images, and animations.

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