University of Oulu

Kerttula, Mikko (2006) Virtual design : a framework for the development of personal electronic products. VTT Publications 615. URI:

Virtual design : a framework for the development of personal electronic products

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Author: Kerttula, Mikko1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Department of Electrical and Information Engineering
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Language: English
Published: Espoo : VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 2006
Publish Date: 2006-09-14
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented, with the assent of the Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Auditorium L10, Raahensali, Linnanmaa, on September 29th, 2006, at 12 o'clock noon
Opponent: Professor Klaus-Dieter Thoben
Doctor Pekka Ketola
Kustos: Professor Juha Röning


Personal electronic products are electronic devices that people use for their everyday tasks. They have customizable features and offer services that are mostly implemented with software and controlled with software-based user interfaces. The development of personal electronics is a demanding task for companies. It introduces a design target that requires multi-discipline co-operation and expertise. Besides for the integration of more traditional development areas of mechanical, hardware and software engineering, the demand for customer satisfaction extends the challenge with new expertise areas that focus on good usability and an appealing design of the product. In general, more effort must be placed on the early design phases that validate the correct product decisions that are necessary for a successful business in the international markets.

This thesis introduces virtual design as a product development framework for the personal electronics industry. Virtual design is based on the effective use of realistic and functional product simulations called virtual prototypes over the different product life cycle phases. The goal of this thesis is to study how virtual design can help companies in developing personal electronics more efficiently, i.e. with better customer satisfaction, reduced effort and shorter development time.

The research work is started by analysing the general challenges that usually are met during the development of a personal electronic product. Next, the development processes and tools that are usually applied in the development of electronic and telecommunication products are studied, along with their typical limitations especially regarding the development of personal electronic products. The analysis is founded on experience from industrial cases. Real case studies are also applied in defining the requirements for better product development and virtual design ultimately aiming to fulfil these requirements.

The potential of virtual design in the development of personal electronic products is evaluated by way of three different cases. The cases consist of 2 public cases and a summative case that describes the development of mobile phone user interface software with virtual design. The cases concretize the results of virtual design in the specific design tasks and also as a wider product development process framework.

This thesis demonstrates that virtual design supported by appropriate tools can improve the performance of a company developing personal electronic products. Maximum benefit can be attained if virtual prototypes are used throughout the entire product life cycle, from concept design to marketing and customer support. It is then that the concrete advantages of the approach, such as improved communication between the design team members, reduced development time with parallelized design tasks, reduced costs based on component reuse, and better product targeting based on improved concept validation, will become even more evident.

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Series: VTT Publications
ISSN: 1235-0621
ISSN-E: 1455-0849
ISSN-L: 1235-0621
ISBN: 951-38-6864-8
ISBN Print: 951-38-6863-X
Issue: 615