Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Fake it before you make it

quirky, keyshot, luxion, solo, product rendering

Renderings drive sales at Quirky’s social media design site

Growing product ideas out of social media is just one of the unconventional aspects of the business model at Quirky (www.quirky.com).  Another is the speed of development.  New marketable designs germinate at an unbelievable rate.

“We can build two products per week.  It may seem radical, and it is,” says Quirky’s head of engineering, John Jacobsen. “Although the designs are not fully developed at that point, we are still taking the community ideas to a certain level of refinement.”

Rendered images of these designs incubate on the Quirky website for further input.  Its community members are typically ordinary (if not slighty more opinionated) household consumers. These photorealistic previews spread through members’ social networks and attract cool-gear shoppers to Quirky’s catalog page, where they can pre-order Quirky inventions at a discount rate. The items that meet a given threshold of advance sales go to the factory first.

“The visual feedback is definitely a necessary component. The better the imagery and higher the fidelity, the more compelling the product is to consumers,” says Jacobsen. “People can appreciate the idea behind the innovations, but it is really the image of the design gets the customer excited enough to follow through with a purchase.”

For many proposals, Quirky posts the rendered images before the objects are even made.  Jacobsen and his team employ a design application called KeyShot by software developer Luxion, considered a pioneer in the new generation of automated rendering tools. Once you get past the fact that the images of some of Quirky’s recent projects like the Snow Dozer ice scraper and Ripple sink strainer are not photographs, you would think that the smooth-talking, studio-lit product shots must have taken days to perfect.

“What we are working with now is lightning fast. I have a laptop equipped with multiple processors and I am able to get high-resolution images from an engineering model in a matter of seconds. For our group, time is of the essence, so this kind of capability is crucial,” he says. “I don’t think we would be able to do what we doing at Quirky without these tools.”

The speed of the processing that keeps Quirky staff in their a high-paced schedule and allows for more numerous and varied product shots. Jacobsen can rotate the object within the studio environment in real time to find the most dramatic highlights and shadows.

Rendering used to be an afterthought, a task after design and before physical prototyping. As the technology has become more interactive, designers are looking at product components in a photo-real environment early and often.  Now consumers are, too.

“It’s becoming another means of evaluating the design itself, a way to judge the forms, materials and finishes. We use it internally to make those decisions. We often find something beautiful or mysterious about the design that we wouldn’t have planned, but we find along the way. High-speed rendering now makes that happen much faster.”

See more Quirky products at www.quirky.com.
Find out more about advanced product rendering at www.keyshot.com.

written by Brett Duesing, Obleo Design Media