A prototype is a product or service sample that made for the purpose of testing or validating a concept or process. A prototype can be used for a number of reasons in Assistive Technology product development:

  • The end user or stakeholders can’t fully comprehend 2D sketches or perspective drawings, requiring a 3D model.
  • Prototypes can be held, sat on or be placed against or near to a user or stakeholders to provide an interaction beyond visualisation.
  • Prototypes can embody physical characteristics that are difficult to present as 2D illustrations, such as weight, centre of gravity, sound, vibration, smell, or movement.
  • Prototypes can be used effectively to undertake participatory design or co-design with people who have visual impairment or difficulties with depth perception.
  • The fidelity or refinement of a prototype is dependent on its purpose and resources available.
  • Human Computer Interaction and Apps design can be prototyped using simple line drawings of computer screens or free graphics packages used alongside basic ‘hypertext mark-up language’ (HTML) webpages to replicate control interactions.

Useful links

Martin, B., Hanington, B., 2012. Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions, Rockport, Beverly.

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., Butler, J., 2003. Universal principles of design: 100 ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design, Rockport, Gloucester.

Torrens, GE and Black, K (2011) Equipment design in inclusive physical activity and disability sport. In Riobas, AC, Stamatakis, E, Black, K (ed) Design for Sport, Gower, pp.153-178, Available at: (, Accessed: [23/09/2015]

Torrens, GE (2011) Universal Design: empathy and affinity. In Karwowski, W, Soares, M, M, Stanton, A, N, Eds, (ed) Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Products, CRC Press, pp.233-248 Available at: (, Accessed: [23/09/015]