The Future of Product Development

To say the world moves faster every day seems like the ultimate cliché.  Haven’t generations upon generations made this same observation?  We stand in the present, looking back upon times when the technology felt slower, progress more relatable, and looking forward, we feel an acceleration, a rushing onwards of dizzying invention.  I’m sure we, as a society, felt this same tipping point at the dawn of the automobile, at the invention of nuclear power, and at the near-spontaneous birth of the internet.  I think the reason for this constant, timeless sensation of accelerating invention is simple: because it’s real.  The pace of product development is a swooping hockey stick that has surprised us all over the last one hundred years, and likely much longer.

More personally, I’ve had a first-hand experience with this over my 16 years with Key Tech.  Key Tech has always been focused on product development of high tech devices, and across those years, I’ve seen the pace of development ever quicken.  Clients demand “start to finish” faster because their markets demand it.  In the medical device space, new breakthrough products come onto the market on a yearly beat.

As we solve tough technology challenges for our clients, we help them build viable products. This mindset of understanding that technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum but as an integral part of a product, either at the conceptual, prototype phase, where we prove out the technology, or as a completely derisked finished product ready to go to market, allows Key Tech to build beautiful functional solutions. By constantly factoring in elements such as usability, costs, ISO 13485 compliance and the ability to have upgraded parts or components to extend the product relevancy lifespan, we give our clients the most clinically advanced, enduring results.

At Key Tech, we’ve kept pace with the speed of product development by constantly standing on the shoulders of the proverbial giant that is the latest technology tools available.  On the electrical side, this means using the fastest circuit board vendors to return to us populated circuited boards in single digit days, using the latest fabrication process possible.  On the mechanical side, this means using the newest rapid prototyping materials, many of which are indistinguishable from production level materials in both strength and appearance.  Across all disciplines, our teams use the latest software for analysis of our designs to confirm their integrity before the designs ever leave our office.  And most powerfully, Key Tech matches the pace of current day product development by inventing our own proprietary tools using these same product development skills.  From software to physical devices, Key Tech has spent the last 20 years (16 of which I’ve been a witness to) constantly building a bank of in-house tools which help us invent more efficiently.

A great example of Key Tech pulling at the yoke of progress is our role in leading the development of the technological heart of GenMark’s ePlex system, a device which is setting the gold standard for molecular diagnostics of infectious diseases.  The ePlex system uses two groundbreaking technologies: electrowetting and eSensing.  Each of these technologies requires advanced circuitry to run a successful assay test.  Electrowetting involves moving microliter drops using no moving parts; rather a pulsing of high voltage causes surface energy changes which motivate the fluid.  eSensing requires measurements of extremely low currents, possible only with highly engineered custom circuit boards.  GenMark chose to work with Key Tech as a development partner to unite these two technologies for the first time.  As project manager for this program, I had the pleasure to see Key Tech take this challenge from idea to full proof of concept in six months in time for presenting at an industry conference.  This required using all of our tools across the firmware, electrical, and mechanical engineering space to make this dream real so quickly.

When a team works together to build a product, not just a technology, we see magic happen. The GenMark project, a result of multiple years of R&D and invention, coming together under a full scope development project resulting in a system that is, at the heart a complex medical device, both simple and elegant for the user.

Looking forward, I would be naïve to think that the coming 16 years will involve any less accelerating than the last 16.  The future of product development will keep making our heads spin.  Devices will keep incorporating more and more complex technology, and since our hands, laps, and tabletops aren’t getting any bigger, this means technology will keep getting smaller.  Microfluidic chips will give way to nanofluidic chips.  Parts will be fabricated faster than they can be delivered.  Patients will regularly use medical devices at home, oblivious to the technical challenges that were conquered to make the experience so effortless.  And the relentless drive for faster product development means that only those companies who maximize the number of giants that they stand on will lead the next revolutions.

Contact us to discuss your tough technology challenges: or 410-385-0200.

Brian Murphy

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