The link between Concept cars and digital prototyping

Frank Van De Ven
3 min readMar 12, 2020


Your might be familiar with the topic of ‘concept cars’: futuristic looking cars that often demonstrate a radical new design or technology, aimed at gauging audience and investors’ interest and overall excitement for what’s to come in the (far) future.

Mercedes Benz Concept car

Concept cars are cool, trendy, shaped by the company’s vision and upcoming (tech) capabilities they will build, and generally make the audience drool in anticipation.

Whether or not the car at hand will actually see the daylight, is another question. Only a handful actually gets released (however we do see a trend of the 90% concept cars, which show newly built cars that are roughly 90% finished and thus more likely to hit production.)

Mercedes Concept car vs reality

Digital prototyping

At Studio Frankly, we create a digital prototype of a new experience for almost every project we do. What this means, in short, is that we create the functionality, interaction, overall flow (or ‘journey’) and visual design for a new product or service.

Example of Digital prototyping

Goals for making such a prototype are:

  • Getting customer feedback
  • Creating general consensus on a future digital experience (within the client/project team)
  • Creating leverage and excitement for additional funding to enter the production phase
  • To understand how you’re going to solve a customer problem
  • To showcase a certain new technology (such as blockchain, internet of things, or AI)
  • Getting a better estimation of the risks and workload, thus minimizing probably or rework and unexpected surprises

Making such digital prototypes is a widely used technique and is gaining ground quickly, now that design and collaboration software is improving rapidly, and companies are more mature when it comes to things like digital presence and need for innovation.

Concept cars VS Digital prototyping

When we look at the concept cars and why they exist, the answer is simple: to excite, get feedback and show the ‘art of the possible’. When we analyze the reasons we make digital prototypes for new experiences, we find similar answers: to get customer feedback, excite internal and external teams, and to showcase the ‘art of the possible’.

This — of course — is not a miracle since a concept car is basically a prototype, but it’s a great example of how the car industry has been using these ‘futurized cars’ for over 80 years to advance the industry forward (the Buick Y-Job, created in 1938, was considered the first concept car).

Just like digital prototypes help us envision and drive the future of experience design too, frankly.



Frank Van De Ven

Strategy Director @Umvel. Love innovation, technology and creating better, user-centered experiences. See