The Beauty of Fidelity

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Low Fidelity

In a rush? Perhaps you don’t require a incredible degree of accuracy, the solution is low fidelity. The beauty of fidelity is that it’s like a dial, and you can turn it down when you are more interested in feeling out a problem or design space, or crank it way up when you absolutely must model ever nuance of nature.

I can think of at least a half dozen products that started with low fidelity or basic products.

  • Game Systems: Pong, Atari, Colleco, Nintendo, Sega, Xbox
  • Monitors/Displays/TVs
  • The Model T Ford
  • Sound Systems
  • Movie Theaters
  • Software Simulations

Over time the wide adoption of technology allows for the scale of numbers to decrease the cost of materials, while affording research dollars to be pushed into improving the technology. This double edged sword is amazing for shifting products along the fidelity curve in an artful way. Supply and demand are fuel to the research of more efficient systems and technology.

The advantage of low fidelity is speed of design/development and accompanying reduced cost. But sometimes we need something exquisite.

Hi Fidelity

Usually new product offerings don’t start hi fidelity. There’s an existing support chain of user cash and industry development that creates the potential for truly remarkable creations. There are exceptions of course, sometimes entrepreneurs and inventors completely skip the low fidelity step by expending enormous amounts of time and cash to get results.

Precision or sensitive tasks require hi fidelity products. Fine manufacturing of computer chips, surgical instruments, and nanotechnology all require careful construction and design. An iterative design process that fine tunes effectiveness over product generations builds user confidence and business capabilities.

In most industries there is usually a smaller market that is willing to pay high costs for hi fidelity products. Consider the tiny percent of the population responsible for investing hedge or asset funds. These folks require the most effective models and spend years perfecting there strategies. The intellectual property associated with their success is key to the competitiveness of the business.

Next time your designing or building a prototype for a customer, consider whether you need hi fidelity, or whether low fidelity will do.

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