We will kickstart your project and analyze all the important aspects. Within two weeks we create all the insights needed to make well well-informed decisions (and start-ups can use the information to create a convincing business plan or pitch deck). The activities and focus will be defined together. You can also download an example of a feasibility report we did for Panasonic if you want a more in-depth view.
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
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 on testing and optimization. Some examples are:
- Long battery life vs small and lightweight: Extending lifetime requires 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, risks need to minimize increasing the validation and test period.
- Certification: Some product categories, like medical devices, require time-consuming certifications.
For an electronic product, it makes a big difference if we need to create a fully engineered and validated design or 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 informed desitions. Because these desitions 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
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.
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.
In this phase, we review the information from the client or analyze the use-case and competition ourselves.
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 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 to have it battery powered or as a backup. To increase the lifetime, we analyzed low power 4G and video modules and other options: 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 on 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 for.
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
In a functional diagram we define the high-level interaction:
2b. Technical Specification
- 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)
Through our experience with numerous electronic projects, we have a wide knowledge of the component costs and can 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 what the main shape could potentially look like 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, planning to estimate 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
Every development of complex consumer goods has risks. The success depends on a lot of factors: availability, marketing, cost-price, quality, and most importantly how much-added value it brings to the customer.
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.
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 will be a big added value. 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.