Research Synthesis Design Solution

Inspiration 02


02 Inspiration

The feedback we received from the focus group led us to investigate popular toys as a source of inspiration for the form factor of our system. The first toy we analyzed was the recently-released Playstation Portable (PSP). Several members of the focus group described the PSP as attractive, cool, or slick. The glossy black finish of the device and its general feel of solidness and quality were pointed out as very positive qualities. This also fit well with the impressions we gathered during our shopping research, such as the preference for black or brushed metal materials in electronic components and the importance of a solid feel to knobs and buttons. We decided to use black as the main color for our device and to limit other colors to those that are commonly used for LEDs in current electronics, such as bright blue or orange.

The exploration of light and color in electronics reminded us of another toy that members of our design team had enjoyed as children. The Lite Brite toy creates a strong visual impression from patterns of colored, backlit plastic pieces. Although the rainbow colors of the Lite Brite were not compatible with the clean, professional aesthetic we wished to create, we wanted to incorporate a brightly lit two-dimensional surface into our design. Advances in technology since the creation of the Lite Brite and the higher target price of our device allowed us to trade backlit plastic for bright LEDs. We also wanted to take cues from the tactile interaction of pressing the plastic pieces into the board. Again, replicating the design of the Lite Brite was not sufficient, since we wanted our design to be a single, integrated device without numerous loose pieces. We looked elsewhere for a tactile experience that would provide a better match for our design goals.

In order to create a strong tactile impression for our device, we looked for toys that use touch as a medium for play. The most successful of these toys is shown below. The tactile experience of these pin-boards is so strongly positive that little else is necessary to sell them. We wanted to replicate this experience in our device by using a two-dimensional, pressure-sensitive surface to express selections. Other feedback encouraged us to simplify our concept of mood-based selections, so we believed that a more organic, tactile interaction would be preferable to the deliberate specification of mood qualities we showed in our Synthetic DJ scenario.


IID 2005 . Human-Computer Interaction Institute . Carnegie Mellon University