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Prototyping for Designers by Kathryn McElroy

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Prototyping for Physical Products

Personal electronics and physical computing are booming areas of design right now. The price of electrical components has dropped, making them more accessible to design and create products with embedded sensors. It’s easy to connect these devices with other Internet of Things (IoT) objects throughout the home or office. These products often have both a physical component and a software app that controls or interacts with the functions of the device. The main focus of this chapter is smart objects, wearables, and connected IoT products. I won’t be digging into traditional industrial design and form-making, which has its own rigorous prototyping practices. In this chapter, I’ll set you up for success while giving you the real lowdown on hurdles you’ll need to overcome to create useful prototypes for physical products.

Getting Started with Electronics

There are so many ways to get started and involved in electronics. New kits come out often that help you build custom circuits and systems including kits from littleBits (littlebits.cc), Adafruit (www.adafruit.com), and SparkFun (www.sparkfun.com). Some kits contain a microcontroller (the computer chip brain), breadboard (solderless construction base), connectors, and a variety of sensors and outputs. These kits, such as the one shown in Figure 6-1, are a great way to get started building simple circuits.

Figure 6-1

An Arduino starter kit is a great way to get all the materials you need (https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoStarterKit ...

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