A Quick Look at Electronics and Software in Product Development Technology by Liliana Kendall - March 26, 2017April 16, 20180 Electronics and software play pivotal and integral yet distinct roles in all modern product design. Hence, anyone looking to turn an idea into a viable product in 2017 and subsequently market that product is required to have at least a basic understanding of the capacities in which both contemporary electronics and software are used as part of the design process and during a product’s developmental stages. Then, here is a quick guide to demystify exactly that which also provides several invaluable resources via which you can find out all you need to know in order to turn any great idea into an equally great product. Electronics Used in Product Development Whatever the nature of your idea, electronics are necessarily used to turn any idea into a product in 2017. Used in combination with software and coding, this is the most efficient and cost effective way of designing and also of testing a product ahead of creating a prototype, which is expensive to do, change and alter. Meanwhile, and separately, electronics also of course feature as part of many products and do so increasingly. Whilst once a knife was used to open a can, and subsequently a manual tin opener, today there are literally hundreds of types of battery and mains powered products designed and created to do nothing more than open a can. Whilst a super simple example, it serves to expose the potential and actual complexity and scope electronics have and provide us with in the modern age. Further, because designing and creating the electronic components of anything from a tin opener to an MRI machine used in hospitals is one of the most complex and vital parts of the design process, it is also one that needs addressing from the very beginning and re-evaluating at almost every stage of the design and development process in order to create a viable end product. To see exactly how electronics are specifically used, created and relied upon in each step of the product design and development process when creating an electronic product of any kind, refer to the Industro Logic guide: A Step by Step Guide to Electronic Product Design and Development. Meanwhile, for a more in-depth look at electronics and software in product design and development, refer to the LinkedIn guide to exactly that. Software Used in Product Development As eloquently stated by Cambridge Design Technology via their ongoing product design and development article series, software is one of the most central ‘services and technologies that compliment – and are critical – commercial product design’. There is a diverse and ever growing number of types of software relied upon to effectively see an idea through the developmental stages and in order to actualise a product intended for market. The most commonly used and as well broadly utilised include CAD software, which you can learn all about in far more depth either by referring to the Autodesk CAD Software Guide. Meanwhile, for an insight into how virtual reality software is used in product development, once more refer to the Cambridge Design Technology series and in this instance their article: Virtual Reality: representing opportunities for product development. Firmware vs. Software: What is the Difference? Firmware is indeed a type of software. Unlike the software discussed above which is used as part of the design process in order to actualise a product, test and evaluate it and as well as identify any potential ‘issues’, flaws or areas of weakness ahead of launching it, firmware refers to the actual software designed and devised or else used within or embedded in a product. In 2017 many hardware products require code and software. The Extreme Telematics Corp. via their guide: Ten Steps in the Product Development Process provide the simple examples of a DVD player and a microwave oven as examples of products which are designed and created using software but which also require firmware in order to function. Meanwhile, for a more in depth and focussed explanation of the differences between hardware, software and firmware and how all three are the building blocks of any product, continue your reading via information security expert and writer, Daniel Miessler’s blog which features the article: The Difference Between Software, Firmware, and Hardware.