Tools for recording prototyping activities and quantifying corresponding documentation in the early stages of product development

Prototyping is an essential activity in the early stages of product development. This activity can provide insight into the learning process that takes place during the implementation of an idea. It can also help to improve the design of a product. This information and the process are useful in design education as they can be used to enhance students’ ability to prototype their ideas and develop creative solutions. To observe the activity of prototype development, we conducted a study on students participating in a 7-week course: Principles of Digital Fabrication. During the course, eight teams made prototypes and shared their weekly developments via internet blog posts. The posts contained prototype pictures, descriptions of their ideas, and reflections on activities. The blog documentation of the prototypes developed by the students was done without the researchers’ intervention, providing essential data or research. Based on a review of other methods of capturing the prototype development process, we compare existing documentation tools with the method used in the case study and outline the practices and tools related to the effective documentation of prototyping activity.