Reconfigurable products and their means of reconfiguration

The number of configurations is charted vs. the area or type of reconfigurability.

Reconfigurable systems are able to meet the increasingly diverse needs of consumers. A reconfigurable system is able to change its configuration repeatedly and reversibly to match the customer’s needs or the surrounding environment, allowing the system to meet multiple requirements. In this paper, a sample of reconfigurable products was studied to better understand the methods used to achieve different configurations. Four methods of reconfiguration were discovered. This expands work previously done in a parallel field with products that transform where only three methods were identified. In order to support the findings of this paper, the variations were identified and example products were presented that clearly show the need for at least one additional method of reconfiguring. A case study is also provided to illustrate the benefits of incorporating four principles, as apposed to three, into the concept generation phase of new reconfigurable product development.