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Renault R4 Prototype (late 1950s)

Renault R4 Prototype (late 1950s).

A prototype is an early model of a product or deliverable. Creating a pre-production version allows evaluation, testing, and fixes before going to production or spending too much time on a faulty design.

Prototypes come in many varieties. They range lo-fidelity (lo-fi) to high-fidelity. An example of a lo-fi prototype is a paper-based version of what software will do -- a mock-up of the process and user interface. A high-fidelity is a custom-made version of a product that functions -- such as a car. In between the extremes are partially built models that show or test certain features. An example is a miniature scale architectural model that shows a building in relationship to the environment and shows the facade in detail. Another intermediate example is an engine that can be tested, rather than building the entire vehicle.

Paperprototype noProjectDemo

Paper-based prototype for a mobile device.

Related: change requests, testing

Prototypes are one of the tools and techniques for the PMI process to collect requirements and are described in section 5.2.2.8 of the PMBOK, 5th edition.

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