One of the world’s largest microprocessor companies asked us to collaborate with their development team to define a PC vision for the future. They envisioned a new computing experience, combining projection, touch, voice and 3D imaging to turn virtually any surface into a PC interface.
The convergence of an emerging technology and a ubiquitous object can lead to fresh and exciting insights. Our goal in design, is to understand connections – connections between social attitudes and productivity, needs and the context of use, form and emotion, materials and structure. This was our mindset, as we became familiar with the opportunity, its technology, and physical requirements. Concurrently, we explored ideal usage models for the kitchen and living room, to better understand how the limits of technology might compromise our desired product behavior.
The product was expected to deliver a multifaceted experience. At one moment you’re interacting with the PC, reviewing a recipe in the kitchen or immersed in a gaming experience with your child. Later, rotating the projector head 90°, or disconnecting the head from the base, you’re able to stream high-definition movies onto a wall or ceiling. The following day, reconnected to the base, the PC could quickly become a lamp, emitting a soft white light while listening to a custom audio stream from Pandora.
In product design there are always trade-offs. Lightness versus strength, quality versus cost – our process focuses on optimization among available alternatives. One of the more difficult challenges in this development was deriving a solution that made the PC, supported by a thin arm, visually appear small and light.
Mission fulfilled. Visions for the future realized. Driven by two sets of constraints, each concept illustrates the promise of a multiplicity of capabilities, while conveying unique emotional and physical sensations. They identified new ways the computer can seamlessly deliver a personalized experience within any environment. As we eat, sleep, go to work and do all of those human things – technology waits not.