A customer validation technique, one of high-fidelity types of MVPs, whereby the product team builds an illusion of a product but with key functionality carried out by a human (or 3rd party service), in order to validate it with real customers at low-cost and high velocity. Use it for testing a specific solution hypothesis by simulating the user experience of the actual intended product as accurately as possible, but accept that the customers will be faced with a slight time delay since a human cannot react as fast as a computer.
a) there might be a chance that this function will not be automated or implemented properly
b) that the final technological solution will deviate from the tested one
c) that you will need people to do the job manually.
a) Zappos, who simulated online shoe store by manually purchasing shoes from nearby shops
b) Aardvark, who simulated the matching mechanism - to connect people with questions to people with expertise - by using interns
c) Cardmunch, who used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to simulate transcriptions of business cards into a readable digital format.