Reverse Engineering and Redesign
In the last class, we discussed stages in product developments. What are the 3 stages of product
development? Or 4 stages, right? How many stages 3 or 4, 3 stages of product development.
What are they? Understand the opportunity, implement concepts, implement a concept and then
each one we went through understands the opportunity.
What do we do in that stage? What is the purpose of the stage to understand the opportunity? See
whether there is a good potential to develop a product and sell it in the market. And there are 4
steps involved in understanding the opportunity. What are they? Develop the vision, market
opportunity, customer need analysis and competitive analysis. At the end of all this, you will be
able to understand that there is a real opportunity to develop new products.
And then the next stage develops a concept. To develop a concept of what we will do, we
decided what the product should do and how the product should provide the functions needed in
the product that is basically developing a concept .
(Refer Slide Time: 01:54)
And the last one is to implement a concept. Where actually we try to build the prototype, test it,
do some trial runs and then sell it in the market. So, these are the 3 important stages in
developing a product, ok. So, these are the 3 stages in developing a product .
(Refer Slide Time: 21:20)
So, we have developed a vision, market opportunity analysis. So, this actually forms ‘understand
the opportunity’, this forms the ‘develop concepts’ and this forms the ‘implementing a concept’.
So, these are the 3 important stages in designing a new product and we will be looking at these 2
stages, ‘understand the opportunity’ and ‘develop a concept’. So, these are the 2 stages we will
be looking into in detail. So, let us see some of the companies, how they actually develop the
(Refer Slide Time: 02:53)
So, this actually shows the product development process of a company which is the Xerox
Corporation. What do they make? Xerox, what do they make? Photocopying machines. How
many people say I want to photocopy? Or how many say I want to Xerox? I want to Xerox this
The Xerox has become synonymous with the photocopy. So, they are highly successful in
developing products for photocopy. So, how do they actually develop the products? So, they do a
product vision, so they have a vision for a new product. And then they define, how they approach
the markets that is basically market opportunity analysis and marketing plan and technology and
then they go for the concept developments.
That is defined product and delivery technology. What they are supposed to do. And then they
decide what are the things to be provided, what are the features to be provided in the products
and then they design the products and then demonstrate is basically implementing the concepts
and then delivering the product and then they ensure that the customers are delighted with their
So, this is the requirement of any company, they want to delight their customers with the
products. And to delight the customer, they need to provide the features the customers definitely
want and the customers may like to have some features the customers do not even expect. You
provide more features than what the first customer can expect and the customers will be
So, that is the way how Xerox Corporation develops the product and sells it in the market. So,
each stage you will be having gates in each stage so there will be different gates. Each gate will
be evaluated, strategy will be evaluated and then it will go to the next stage, next stage, then we
will go to the market and delight the customer. You have many stages and gates and at the end of
the final gate, you have a product which goes to the customer. What is your roll number? Now,
let us take another example of so, this is the example for the Stage Gate process. The next
example is what is the other product development process on a stage gate? Spiral. So, who uses
spiral gates? Software Company .
(Refer Slide Time: 05:54)
So, let us see how the Microsoft Corporation develops their products. They have 3 stages of
planning, coding and stabilization. So, this will be 1 cycle and then again it will go to 1 more
cycle where again they will do the planning, coding, stabilization; this keeps on happening like
this and it will go through Multiple Stage Gate process and finally, they will release the product
and that is the spiral design process followed by Microsoft Corporation.
This way you will see any company you take, any manufacturer you take you will see that they
follow a process which will be either a Stage Gate process or a Spiral Design process. Of course,
the nomenclature may be slightly different, but the companies will be having stages and gates to
ensure that the product is really worth taking forward and customers will be happy to use the
product. So, that is the way companies develop the product, got it? Any questions ?
(Refer Slide Time: 07:10)
We talked about reverse engineering in 1 of the classes, I told you that reverse engineer
engineering is basically to ensure that if some products are not meeting the expectations of the
customer or the customers are not happy, then we try to redesign the products by looking at the
product, what is there inside the products and then try to develop a new product that is basically
known as reverse engineering.
It is also a process of developing products. And sometimes we use this for learning product
development. Basically to learn product development, we use reverse engineering. The reason is
that a concrete understanding of how products are developed helps you to get an idea how to
make a good product. We need to have some concrete experience in order to develop a new
So, that is what we are actually trying to do in the lab class for you to get some concrete
knowledge or experience of real products, and then you can look at the product and then see how
this product can be improved or how they are actually developing this product and how it can be
improved. That is why we use reverse engineering here. Reverse engineering is used by many
companies to develop products, but what we are looking at is to see how reverse engineering can
be used for learning product design.
This is what we are trying to do here. Starting with an existing product in the marketplace and
redesigning it for some perceived market defects is known as reverse engineering. So, I have a
product like this and I have some problems with it, so I will try to see if I can develop this
product to a better one. So, I will try to understand what is happening inside, I will open this, try
to understand all the parts and then I will find that, ok, this particular button is not properly
placed or it is actually creating a problem.
Can I redo these buttons and then make it as a new product? That is basically reverse
engineering. So, I do understand all this happening inside and then try to redesign it and this is
known as reverse engineering. So, in existing products we try to modify by some process some
methods and we call this reverse engineering and redesign because reverse engineering and
Of course, in this course we will not be doing a redesign of the existing product but we will try to
understand what is happening inside each product and then try to get an idea how they are
actually developing, how they develop the product and what this product does in order to meet
the customer's requirements. That is what the purpose of reverse engineering is, it entails the
prediction of what the product should do, followed by modeling analysis, the section and
explanation of its actual performance.
We try to understand what the product is supposed to do and then try to understand how it is
being done and then do some actual dissection of the products and then experimentation of its
actual performance and then do a redesign to make the design better. Many industries will try to
reverse engineer the products existing in the market to overcome some of the perceived
difficulties or some shortcomings of the product and get a new product. So, that is basically
known as reverse engineering and redesign process .
(Refer Slide Time: 11:19)
So, for us what is the importance of reverse engineering? We are not going to redesign the
existing product for this class. But why are we doing reverse engineering? Why are we doing this
kind of exercise? To understand the product. So, last lab class we did a dissection of a broad
class. How many of you participated in the dissection?
All of you or some of you just watched it? So, did you learn something from that? Or it was the
first time that you were doing a dissection? How many of you are doing it for the first-time
opening products? Ok, few of you. Yeah. So, now, if you do this for multiple times, you will get
a lot of information about how products work, how each product is providing outputs and you
provide electricity, you are getting an output at the end of the product.
So, what are the things that happen in between and how the designer makes it possible to happen
is understood through product dissection exercises. So, reverse engineering basically follows this
principle for learning purposes.
Kolb’s Model of Learning
There is something called a Kolb's Model of Learning. It says
that the best way to learn things is basically to experience so the moment you experience things,
you know, what is needed for doing that.
You will be getting the best experience or best learning through experience. So, the Kolb's
learning model basically tells you that every learning starts with a concrete experience. How
many times somebody tells you how to swim, you will experience, you will learn only when you
do, do experience the swimming. Similarly driving can tell 100 hours of theory about driving,
but the moment you start experiencing it, then only you start learning it.
So, design is also like that you need to have some kind of concrete experience to start with the
learning process. Reverse engineering basically tells you that the grounding in a current product
helps nurture our interest for understanding the way things work and for making devices work
better. That is the whole idea.
If you know the current products and how it works, that only will help you design the better
process. If you do not know how this works, you will never be able to redesign or improve the
body. So, the grounding in a current product helps a designer to design a better product.
That is the whole idea of reverse engineering and learning through experience. The Kolb's Model
tells that you start with concrete experience, i.e., you want to learn something, you get an
experience of that. So, if you want to design a product, you experience how the product works.
You open up the product, understand each part, what is the role of each part in the product?
And what is the size dimensions, what it actually does, how is it being assembled, all those
things you understand, and then do the reflective observation. Why is it doing something? What
is it? What makes it to do something thing that is basically the reflective observation discussions,
you discuss this product with your peers or even your assistant, teaching assistants or the
technicians discuss with them why is it needed, why a particular gear is provided or why a belt
drive is there are a particular component is assembled in 2 parts or 3 parts.
So, are those things you question and then you will understand why and what of the products. So,
once you know why it works and what this is, what it makes to work, then you start how to
improve it or how to do something different or how to make a new conceptualization, abstract
hypothesis and conceptualization. So, now you know very well about what is happening. Now,
you try to start thinking of how to improve it, what can be done to make it, make this product
better, and then start working on it and then go what if you try to change something and then see
what happens in the product that is produced what if I do experimentation.
You start experimenting with the new designs or the new concepts and then get the experience.
That actually completes the cycle of redesign process reverse engineering and redesign process.
You will be doing these 3 parts: the concrete experience, reflective observation and to some
extent, a conceptualization on how to improve the product. During the lab, you are expected to
do these 3 parts and then get a good idea of the existing product so that you can be a good
designer or you can think of redesigning the product.
That is the whole idea of having the lab session on reverse engineering, any questions? All right.
Whenever you do the lab exercise, and you are trying to prepare a report, keep these things in
mind the whole purpose of doing this. Why are we doing this? We are doing this to get a good
experience of what is happening in the products, ok that is the concrete experience and to
understand why and what makes this product possible, or why is it so?
And what makes it do something which you expect it to do? Or you expect, why is it not doing
something which you want to do? So, understanding this, why and what helps you to clearly tell
what is good about the product and what is bad about the product? When you write the reports,
try to answer these questions, what is good, what is bad and why is it doing what it is doing?
And then see how can we improve upon it conceptually, it will take some more time for you to
come up with new ideas and concepts to make it better but the ultimate aim is to see how do you
improve an existing product that is where if you open up my inbox you should try to find out
what is good and what is bad about it and how to make it betterments then you are becoming a
So, the learning cycle, which I already mentioned to you. It begins with concrete experience,
proceeds with reflective observation and conceptualization and ends before starting with active
experimentation. That is that you make it and then try and experiment with the new products that
is basically the Kolb's Model of Learning which we are following in order to make sure that you
understand the products in a much better way .
(Refer Slide Time: 18:47)
So, this is the summary of the reverse engineering, you investigate prediction and hypothesis,
concrete experience some function and form and that becomes the reverse engineering and then
you design the new product, then it becomes modeling analysis and redesign. So, redesign can
actually happen through adaptive design, original design or parametric design, these are the 3
methods by which you can design, original design, adaptive design and changing the parameters.
So, any one of these can be used to redesign the products that is reverse engineering and redesign
(Refer Slide Time: 19:24)
So, we start with reverse engineering, understand the market for current products, making
intelligent estimates of what the functional model ought to be and dissect the products and then
develop a redesign. We saw how we actually design the new products using methods or
understanding the market and then developing a redesign .
(Refer Slide Time: 19:46)
So, we can actually summarize this in these 3 that is reverse engineering, develop a redesign and
implement the concepts. That is the reverse engineering stages. First, you do a reverse
engineering of the existing process. Select the products, develop a new vision for developing the
product, customer need analysis, market opportunity analysis and then functional modeling,
competitive analysis, product architecture development.
And then finally, implementing a concept that is the reverse engineering and redesigning product
development process. The new product development process, we saw instead of reverse
engineering, we will be having the stage, the new product developments there are 2 things 1 is
new product development, the other 1 is reverse engineering and redesign new completely new
product development you develop a vision and then develop a concept and then implement a
concept. So, this instead of this, you will be having reverse engineering, then develop a redesign
and implement a concept. So, these are the 3 stages that you will be having in the reverse
engineering process .
(Refer Slide Time: 21:01)
So, let me summarize what we discussed in the last 3-4 classes. We briefly talked about the
objective of engineering design, and then we talked about the type of design and redesign. What
are the types of design we discussed? Original design, adaptive design, variant design or
sometimes called as parametric design also; variant design or parametric design. And then we
talked about 2 stages or 2 product development processes: the Stage Gate process and spiral
model process. And then we talked about different stages in product development. So, we know
that this is Stage Gate and in Stage Gate there are multiple stages .
(Refer Slide Time: 22:07)
So, we will start this in the next class. Let us just discuss some general things about designers. If
you take any design problem or you take a designer as a problem solver. So, any design problem
has 3 stages or 3 components, I can say that you have an undesirable initial stage, you start with
an undesirable initial state, "oh, this is not working the way I want" that is my undesirable initial
stage. Any product design problem you take, you will see that ok, my cycle is not giving me the
speed as a watch that is your undesirable initial state or I need to pedal either way from my
hostel to the class.
That is my undesirable initial stage. So, you are not happy with something or you feel something
is not good or something is not working the way you want and that becomes your undesirable
initial state in the product development and then you have a desirable goal stage, you know that,
"ok I do not want to put any effort, I want to reach my classroom from the hostel without much
effort" or any other issues you face.
Somebody will say, ok, I would sweat a lot, right from hostel to classroom. That is your
undesirable initial state, what you want, you do not want to get sweat, yeah. So, no sweat, that is
your desirable initial state and desirable goal state. So, you have an initial state, which is very
much unfavorable, and you have a very desirable goal state also. Now, as a designer, your job is
basically to move from here to here.
You want to convert this undesirable stage to your goal stage. For every designer, every problem
solving is what is needed. The whole question is, how do we actually reach because there will be
a lot of roadblocks and impediments in achieving that goal. There will be a lot of difficulties in
converting that undesirable goal to a desirable and undesirable initial state.
So, the moment you actually solve this, and you try to overcome these things, then you are
becoming a designer, you are actually getting a new product. So, every designer is basically a
problem solver. He is trying to solve a problem, which he saw and how he solves depends on
how creative and how imaginative he is in removing the challenges. So, that is where actually the
designer comes as a problem solver.
So, when I say I have a problem with the projector, I know what the problem is. I know the
undesirable initial states. I know what the required state is so yeah, I do not want to connect my
laptop to the system, the moment I switch on my laptop and press a button it should get
connected, I do not care how it happens. So, I have an initial stage which is undesirable, I have a
goal state which is desirable.
Now, the question is, how do I reach them? Or can I remove this cable between this projector
and that laptop? If I can solve that, then I am getting a new product. So, as a designer, what I will
see I look at ok, what is happening in this cable and is there another way to connect from here to
there without using a cable that is my challenge. So, I hear many option technologies are
Now, I will try to work on it and come up with a solution where the cable can be removed, then I
am getting a new product. So, I am solving a problem by overcoming the issues in having my
goal state achieved. That is the problem solver. So, every designer is a problem solver. So, if you
are ready to solve problems then only you can become a good designer. But what are the good
characteristics of a problem solver?
What qualities should you have in order to become a good problem solver? What are the
qualities? Pardon? Persistence yeah. Good, persistence, what is persistence? I will not stop right
whatever happens I will keep on working on it till I reach my goal. What else, failures? Patience,
ok, yeah, sometimes patience, will get correct next. What else, ok this I will come back? Of
(Refer Slide Time: 26:56)
So, acceptance of failures. That is one thing, then there is continuity and flexibility, which is
basically the persistence, separations everything comes under this. You have to continue to work
on it and then estimate; the other things are basically recognizing the dependencies, you should
be in a position to understand what depends on others. So, what is the dependency between 2
factors, there may be multiple factors, how they are interrelated, how these interrelationships can
actually lead to better design.
So, these are basically recognizing the dependencies, estimating importance and urgency, what is
most important what is to be sought solved first, that is that estimating importance, urgency,
urgency, and of course, the decision-making behavior which actually follows all these things.
And how do you make a good decision about something good, there may be multiple options you
do not know which one is good.
So, you should be able to recognize the dependencies. You should understand the importance
and urgency, continuity and flexibility, acceptance of failures and of course, this becomes very
critical in solving the problem creatively. So, you need to be intelligent and creative in order to
solve the problem. So, as a designer you try to see whether something good can be solved. Look
around you and see what are the simple problems you can solve, ok .
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
You may be working on it. So, for example, very simple problems. So, this lady who is working
on this device, you know what is this? Pardon? Hand. Yeah, ok. Hand spinning machine. Yeah.
So, now is there any problem with this machine? Do you think there is an undesirable initial state
in this and you know, what is this?
Pulley, for getting water from the well, people use it in villages. Do you think there is any
problem with these kinds of devices in rural places, and most of you must have seen this? So,
this problem is that she has to stretch her hand to both sides. So, this has to be controlled and this
has to be controlled, she has to spin this and then control this side. So, there is a lot of effort
needed in doing this work.
Can you make it a simple one? We can make her effort actually come down. So, the desired
initial state is that you do not have to stretch your body or put much effort when doing this.
Similarly, here also you have a lot of effort needed to get the water. Is there a way to modify this
to make a better design? And these are the things which you can see in everyday life where we
can actually solve problems.
So, whenever you see such problems, see whether as a designer, you are able to contribute this in
a better way or you can actually contribute in improving the design as a designer, so now, you
here after you all whenever you see these kind of things, think about what where you can
actually solve the problem. So, take everything as a problem and as a designer, you are solving
the design, ok .
(Refer Slide Time: 30:30)
So, to understand this, let us look at what are your individual characteristics as a designer or as
an individual because all of you will be having some special characteristics or special
capabilities, ok. So, we can actually classify people based on few characteristics and then see
how they behave in a particular situation. So, if you give me a problem, what will be the way in
which he tried to solve the problem?
Suppose somebody asks you, go to T Nagar. What will you do? Somebody says, ok can you go
to T Nagar? You know, T Nagar, all of you. Oh you do not know, sorry ok. So, somebody says
ok, go to the airport. What will you do? We need to start from home, to do that or you tried to
find out where the airport is, what are the ways in which you can reach the airport? Is it a bus or
is there a taxi or what is the best way to reach and what time is the best time to go there?
What time is the best time to go there? So, there are many things somebody will immediately
start, Oh, you want me to go to the airport? Let me start. And then he leaves the gate and then
thinks about ok, well, now I reached the gate. Should I take a bus or a taxi? Then he will start
thinking about it. And then he will go take a bus and he does not know where to get down. So, he
will call his friend, Oh, why should I get down.
Then he got down that place, then you saw how from there how to go to the airports. So, there
are people who think in different ways and work in different styles. So, when you work as a
group or as a team, you will see that people do not work in the same way as you wish. So, it is
good to know, what is your personal working style? Are you a person who goes into the details
and plans everything and then goes?
Or are you a person who just jumps into it and then sees, let me see what happened. So to do
that, let us just do a simple exercise. I think last time I gave you a form, how many of you have
that form with you, please take out that form. And if you do not have the form, also do not
worry, no worries. I will tell you what to do, ok. So, in that form, some instructions are given.
I will use the same instruction here also. So, you do not need to worry even if you do not have it.
So, I will try to view your personality type in 4 letters. So, you can actually identify 4 letters
based on your type of character. So, let me see the first 1, here, let me finish it. So, this is known
as Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI . What type of a person are you? That is the Type
Are you a person with very detailed planning? Or you are a good person as a marketing expert or
you are good at making something hands on. These are other things which you can actually
identify. This is known as Myers Briggs Type Indicator, a measurement indicator of how people
behave and contribute in work environments. So, as a designer, how will you be contributing?
So, please go through this.
You can actually be a person by E or I based on how you are energized, what gives you energy?
For some people energy gets when they talk to their friends. When they are in a group, they are
very energetic, and you leave them alone, they are very depressed, they cannot work. For some
people living alone is the best way to energize them. In a group, they feel very uncomfortable.
They cannot do things when they are in a big group that kind of people are there.
That is basically how a person is energized. Extroversion versus introversion. What a person
pays attention to, his sensory feelings, or he is on intuition. Sensory feelings are what you see,
what you hear, that becomes important for him. For others, what you hear is not important, but
what you think, what you know about that is more important than sensory, that is basically
sensory versus intuition S versus N.
And how a person decides, what way you decide things based on your thinking or based on your
feeling. I will explain these later what actually you mean by these things and what kind of
outlook on life a person adopts, judgment versus perception, ok. So, the point is that you cannot
be E or I for each category type a person is assumed to have an intrinsic preference for 1 of each
pair over the other, that is, you can be a E or I you cannot be in between, though you may say
that I am half this half this, but there is a clear difference that you can be either E or I.
Similarly, you can be S or N, or T or F, J or P. So, you choose 1 letter from each 1 of these that
gives you a personality type or your character type, do not choose now, I will tell you when to
choose. So, let us move to that one .
(Refer Slide Time: 36:03)
Just do this extrovert versus introvert person. Extroverted person will act first, think later, go to
airports, he will start at airports, he will not ask, why are you going? Where or when should I go?
Starts and then only he will start thinking about it. Feeling deprived when cut off from the
interaction with the outside world he always wants people around him, he wants always to be
with people and does not like to be alone. He cannot work alone. That kind of people are E.
Usually open and motivated by the outside world of people, enjoy a wide variety and change in
He wants to have a lot of changes in the relationship, variety of people, all kinds of friends will
be there, from all parts of life, and he will be having friends. That kind of a person is basically an
extroverted person. The other 1 is introverts; think, reflect first and then act. If you ask him to go
to airports, we will say, ok, and why do you want to go? When do you want to go? What is the
reason he will ask you 100 questions.
And if he is convinced then only he will start. He will not start like this person, that is I and
regularly require an amount of private time, he does not like to be always in the crowd, he needs
his own time to work, think that is basically private time, motivated, internally minded,
sometimes so active close to outside words. So, he gets energy from himself. He wants time to
think of think about