The idea factory
Validating ideas for digital products
After completing her Master of Science in Embedded Systems at the Delft University of Technology (NL), Teresa started an internship at Geberit. She wanted to find out how she could put her newly acquired skills to good use at a multinational company such as Geberit, and is now demonstrating this in the Digital Products team.
“Fortunately for me, I had already got to know Geberit as part of a programme run by UNITECH, a network for young engineers and companies,” explains Teresa. “In a business case, we showed how a smart bathtub could work with the addition of all kinds of sensors and technical functions.”
When it comes to ideas such as the smart bathtub, the first step is seeing whether the product would actually be feasible in real life. This is where Teresa comes in at Geberit. As part of her internship in the Digital Products team, she checks whether existing solutions can be enhanced using smart technologies. In doing so, she applies the design thinking approach. “The principle is a simple one. First of all we make a very rudimentary, cheap prototype that is easy to create. Experts use the prototype to evaluate the idea and, if it meets with approval, develop it further according to the normal Geberit development process,” explains Teresa, who is clearly very enthusiastic about the process: “Dealing with the challenges seen in this development process is enormous fun. You can also really feel Geberit’s strength in the field of development.”
“Interns like Teresa are extremely important for Geberit,” comments Bernhard Grieser, who heads up the Digital Products team. “We receive valuable insights and can quickly analyse the usefulness of product ideas with the help of design thinking and the fast prototyping approach.” Partnerships with universities or programmes run by networks like UNITECH are thus extremely beneficial to Geberit.
Design thinking explained
The design thinking approach is based on the principle of interdisciplinarity and iteration. It involves both users and experts from various different departments. With the constant feedback from all participants and the resulting consistent improvement of a simple, early prototype, the final idea is then gradually refined before being ultimately put into action.