Customer Spotlight 9 min read

How Punchcut Transforms Designs using ProtoPie

Find out how the Punchcut team innovates product experiences for a connected tomorrow.

Rebeca Caritas
Rebeca Caritas, Customer Success AssociateDecember 7, 2022
punchcut using protopie thumbnail

The Fitbit you wear. The Google Assistant you talk to. You might not know it but you’ve already used a Punchcut-influenced product.

Punchcut is a user experience innovation company that has co-created a wide range of renowned mobile and connected products with some of the biggest companies across the world.

But how does Punchcut create these innovative experiences? And how do they make use of ProtoPie’s rapid high-fidelity prototyping tools to prepare for the future?

In our most recent webinar, we spoke to the Punchcut team including Ken Olewiler, CEO and co-founder of Punchcut, to find out more.

The Punchcut team

The future is always coming. Technology is evolving fast. But at Punchcut they have a saying, “People are our priority and the future is the focus”. Big changes are exciting but Punchcut knows that technology only works when you put people first.

That idea is in everything they do. Punchcut is a digital product design company with its core studio in San Francisco but distributed remotely across the US. The team works with clients to accelerate innovation by designing for human-centered experiences.

They've worked across industries from health to wearables, to autonomous car UX design. For over twenty years Punchcut has helped Samsung, LG, Disney, Sony and many more of the world’s top companies design connected products.

Range of customers and products Punchcut work with
Punchcut's clients portfolio

How Punchcut accelerates design

For Punchcut it’s all about getting to the future faster. Clients are empowered to accelerate design through three areas:

  • Future vision: What is the product’s guiding star? Punchcut works to crystallize that initial idea through workshops, consumer research, demos and prototyping. Whether it’s a new market opportunity or ways to evolve a product for new technology, Punchcut will implement a strategy for that vision.
  • Product design: This is when rapid prototyping comes into its own. With dynamic tools like ProtoPie, design and code are brought together and the vision is transformed into a reality.
  • Team growth: Sometimes a design team can’t scale fast enough. Punchcut is there to provide focused design training and planning.

With these strategies, clients can create connected and human-centered product experiences more rapidly than ever.

How Punchcut sees the future of design

Consumers have lived through a lot of change in twenty years. Punchcut recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and for two decades they have guided clients through that change. When the internet era transitioned to the mobile era Punchcut was there to lead the design of phones and tablets. Then came wearables, TVs and car UX design leading to multi-device connectivity. Building on that connected era the next step was introducing more naturalism with voice interactions and haptics.

design evolution through time

Now we are in the decade of conscious experiences. The relationship between humans and machines is only getting closer and more empowering. To bring together these connected product experiences Punchcut knows that design needs to be conscious and dynamic, evolving with us as our needs change.

design process optimization

To do this, Punchcut has built specialized design practices for the four principles that future products must deliver on.

  • Intelligent: Punchcut works to humanize artificial intelligence with prototyping for autonomous cars, digital assistants and smart appliances.
  • Immersive: This is where digital and physical spaces come together. Punchcut designs spatial experiences that are sensory and seamless across platforms like the Metaverse and XMR. The future is multisensory and Punchcut is looking to eye-tracking and sentiment analysis for more human interactions.
  • Systemic: Products are no longer one-dimensional. Products are distributed experiences that are essentially a service. Punchcut transforms products into services by designing unified ecosystems
  • Social: All the above areas need to ladder up to improve the well-being of people and create more communal benefits.

How Punchcut approaches prototyping to inspire innovation

From the beginning of a project to the end, Punchcut is always prototyping. The team sees this process as essential to quickly test and get a feel for an idea.

prototyping accelerates the design process

The Punchcut team has a number of prototyping tools at their disposal. From simple design tools like Figma and Principle to more complex tools like React and Unity.

But for the Punchcut team, ProtoPie is in the sweet spot. It’s a powerful, designer-friendly tool that offers easy and secure sharing to clients. It’s versatile. ProtoPie handles the data. The multi-sensory experiences. The Multiverse. Inputs and interactions. Connecting to phones. TVs. Cars.

ProtoPie handles it all. Seamlessly.

ProtoPie is a medium that lets Punchcut move faster in its process without the complexity of code and networking. By saving this time Punchcut’s technologists are freer to work on complex programming and clients have more time to evaluate the product’s impact.

Let’s look at the three areas where prototyping is crucial.

  • Accelerating Ideation

During ideation, Punchcut works with clients to evaluate ideas, define constraints and gather feedback. They use exercises such as concept sketching and building frameworks but none are as important as rapid prototyping.

Prototyping accelerates ideation. Punchcut found they could push boundaries and understand edge cases far quicker than before.

Here’s a car prototyping example. When working with Nissan and Toyota, Punchcut found that an automotive prototype was key to ideating and defining better experiences. They didn’t have to describe a product to their client. They could show it.

car prototype punchcut

This is where ProtoPie comes in.

With ProtoPie’s automotive prototype Punchcut was able to see a lightweight build of a car’s UI/UX. Thanks to a low-fidelity build ProtoPie could leverage high interaction rapidly even when connecting to multiple devices. ProtoPie gives access to multisensory triggers. Voice. Audio. Sound. All to create a holistic user experience—all without code.

  • Enhancing storytelling

Punchcut is always looking to tell a story. Prototyping makes that happen. By bridging the gap between vision and reality, prototyping brings stories to life.

Imagine you're watching a show, and hear a song you like. You wish there was an easy way to listen to it again on your TV without opening another app. How could technology enable something like that?

tv prototype made with protopie by punchcut

Using ProtoPie, Punchcut was able to create a prototype that solved this problem. ProtoPie incorporated rich media into a nuanced, complex prototype. It worked across mobile and TV, with advanced, high-fidelity visuals and motion design. ProtoPie reacts to taps and swipes instantly whilst giving users a sensory output by playing music and video.

Connectivity. Fidelity. Polish. All made possible with ProtoPie.Punchcut specifically credits ProtoPie’s send-and-receive system for creating manageable builds. With this feature, inputs and messages can be sent across multiple devices. Engineers can implement an observer pattern in Unity, for example, whilst retaining a simplicity that designers can understand. When things get complex it’s ProtoPie’s reusable blocks that keep things simple.

ProtoPie also eliminates the need to set up servers and the repetitive tasks normally needed to enable multi-device experiences. No need to mess around with WebSocket. ProtoPie handles everything.

  • Realizing designs

Designers. Developers. Clients. Prototyping makes everyone feel at ease. Designers can see their vision is implemented correctly and developers are confident the idea is feasible. ProtoPie’s interaction recipes also make the handoff to devs easy and efficient. Dynamic demos give clients the best understanding possible and compelling evidence to seek funding.

prototype made with protopie

ProtoPie Studio made it easy for Punchcut to run these tests both in person and by simply sharing a link via ProtoPie Cloud. Just a few reasons why ProtoPie is an essential tool in Punchcut’s toolkit.

Punchcut’s mission is to create the future of connected products. For that, prototyping is crucial. ProtoPie turbocharges that process, getting Punchcut’s clients to the future faster.

Watch out last webinar with Punchcut here.

The sky is the limit with ProtoPie

More than 15,000 companies trust ProtoPie to fulfill their prototyping needs. Schedule a demo to discover ways ProtoPie can help your teams succeed.