CES 2008 by design
Kevin M. Kelly
Each year thousands of new gadgets are introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. What’s important to note is that not only is the show scoured by the technoratti looking for the latest products, but by engineers, designers, and executives from automotive companies, who are looking for the “next big thing” that may have consequences for their products. Among the dizzying array were a few notables that stood out for their design prowess:
Bang & Olufsen Beo5 Remote Control
Bang & Olufsen’s (www.bang-olufsen.com) Beo5 remote control was developed after 15 years of research on Human/Machine Interface activities with various universities and NASA. The focus was to provide the customer with the simplest interface available–a combined LCD touch screen and track ball, tailored comfortably to fit into the palm of the hand. The base’s circular aluminum ball and the sleek touch screen were designed to mimic a sceptre, symbolizing control. Careful attention was paid to materials, including the use of high-grade contoured aluminum on the base and soft touch keys on the face. When not in use, the Beo5 stands upright, like a piece of sculpture thanks to the tungsten weight placed inside the ball.
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin
Simplicity, exceptional performance and visual beauty were the goals behind the development of Bowers & Wilkins (www.bowers-wilkins.com) Zeppelin iPod portable speaker system. Designed by the team at Native Design in London, the Zeppelin’s signature shape provided an ideal form that provided an excellent acoustic engineering envelope. The Zeppelin comes complete with a remote that carries on the signature shape, while the front docking port was designed to allow the user to grasp the iPod easily.
Clarion BT Audio System
The continued migration of music from physical CDs to portable players and USB sticks is resulting in changes to the design of in-vehicle audio systems, as exemplified witnessed by Clarion’s (www.clarion.com) BT Audio system. Its shark gill-inspired Human/Machine interface design allows for more expression, complete with large buttons, customizable LED ambient backlighting and no ugly CD loading slot.
Wolfking Warrior XXTreme
Gaming has become a national pastime and Wolfking’s (www.wolfkingusa.com) Warrior XXTreme keyboard turns the traditional layout on its head. The left side of the keyboard was designed strictly for gaming applications, while the right side allows players to multi-task by simultaneously messaging other players or friends in chat rooms. A “blue moon” backlight enables players to operate the keyboard in low light conditions.
Hailed as the smallest waterproof HD camcorder, the design of Sanyo’s Xatci E1 (www.sanyo.com) resulted from ergonomic research studies conducted in conjunction with Japan’s Chiba University. Paramount to the design was ease for one-handed operation, which was accomplished by optimizing the lens to grip angle for minimal strain on hand muscles. Equally important, the lens was designed to be level to the ground when attached to a tripod, a common complaint Sanyo faced with other camcorders.
Known for its Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners, iRobot (www.irobot.com) is taking automated cleaning to a new level with Looj, whose task is to clean out clogged gutters. Looj’s bright green color is meant to make the robot friendly, but the tank-like track system on which it rides gives a serious, tough appearance.
Approximately the size of a pack of Wrigley’s gum–overall dimensions: 3.82 in. x 1.18 in. x 0.83 in.–Samsung’s Juke (www.samsungjuke.com) proves that small things can be expressive. The slim color screen and brushed round metal scroll wheel provide a simple HMI design when playing multimedia. Turn the Juke upside down and slightly nudge the right corner and it swivels to unveil a phone keypad.
Motorola ROKR E8
Designed to compete head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone, the Motorola ROKR E8 (www.motorola.com) provides a clean, sleek design with no visible keys to clutter its face. A reconfigurable display projects only the inputs needed during various operations; power it on and the phone number pad is displayed; when playing music only the music controls are displayed. ROKR even includes vibrating haptics technology to provide feedback to the user when selecting various functions.
Kevin M. Kelly
by Kevin M. Kelly
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gardner Publications, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning