The global FMCG business wanted to boost the power of prototyping textured pattern designs for their consumer goods by digitising the prototyping process.
The decision followed customer feedback about the importance of pattern design as a key way to differentiate between brands and signal specific product attributes.
The corporation enlisted the help of Happy Finish to equip the research and development (R&D) team of its design department with digital tools to virtualise product design prototyping.
The goal was to enable design teams to create digital, photo-real visualisations of their chosen pattern design applied to a product as if it was a finished manufactured physical prototype, enabling informed decision-making and accelerating the design and prototyping process overall.
On a roll: how did they do it?
In partnership, the corporation and Happy Finish developed a cloud-based software application to generate synthetic images of virtual prototypes.
Built with Unreal Engine, the app provides realistic rendering of manufacturing intent and contextual real-time 3D visualisations. This allows designers to upload new pattern designs and generate photorealistic digital swatches that come to them in seconds – as a flat 2D render or as a 3D object with environmental context.
The tool has a number of variable control parameters that can be specified by the user to guide the desired output image.
The project was run from the US, with development work carried out in the UK & Italy.
Results: design for life
For designers, what previously took up to a month can now be generated in a matter of minutes – sometimes even seconds. This enables faster prototype development for the design team.
For researchers, due to the digital prototypes being so lifelike, it’s possible to run virtual consumer studies outside of the standard capabilities. This has step- changed how they conduct consumer learnings without any physical prototypes and increased the speed at which insights can be collected and implemented.
And this is just the beginning. The corporation and Happy Finish are in talks to develop the tool further so designers can consider additional product pattern variables such as borders, banners and custom artwork in a live 3D tool.
The technology roadmap also includes integrating Machine Learning to enable the tool to score segmented consumer feedback sentiment for generated images – predicting which patterns will perform best in the real world.
There are plans to adapt the tool for other products, too.
Product design will never be the same again!