Philips shows product concepts
Dutch Philips Electronics on Wednesday unveiled innovative product ideas that emerged from its design laboratories in collaboration with consumers seeking friendlier high technology gadgets.
Elements of these concepts could appear in products on store shelves as early as this year, Europe's top consumer electronics group said.
The ideas, all based on available technology, are aimed at making gadgets easier to use and share among various types of users.
For instance, "we believe the interactive television we see today is based on the wrong model," said Anton Andrews, creative director of Philips' Intuitive Connected Home design research project. "It's built on the idea of an individual doing things on a TV he or she would otherwise do on a computer."
Philips showed how music buffs could use a standard TV remote control to manage a song library projected as a cluster of stars. The remote automatically creates playlists by choosing one track, and transfers tracks to a portable device with a swipe over the TV. Friends can share songs by keeping devices close together, and play tracks in sync on separate portable devices.
In another concept, a photo album is managed on a TV set, again by remote control. New images are shown by swiping a cell phone containing a picture album over the TV. The phone can be used as a separate remote control to add pictures from the phone's album to a collaborative picture email message.
The receiver of a picture email can use a special remote control to point and drag a photo from one TV to another TV or to a digital picture frame.
Launches this year
"The user experience is now the driving force behind our design development process," Andrews said.
Rather than approaching consumers at the very end of the design process to test concept products, Philips' Intuitive Connected Home project tracks consumers' habits, shows them ideas for an application, seeks further comment online and shows real prototypes even before the products are tested.
Tests are designed to see if consumers understand a product, know how to use it and recognise the value.
"The result is an experience prototype," Andrews said. "It's not the same as a design model which looks nice but is impossible to produce, and its not the same a technical prototype which works well but is a block of technology with wires protruding from all sides."
The product should still look nice in the shop to drive retail sales, but this was a separate design effort, he added.
Philips' design department, with 450 employees, serves all its divisions, including the lighting unit which is the world's biggest and the medical systems business.
The new design approach, reflected in the company's "sense and simplicity slogan," is a response to the commoditisation of high technology such as LCD TVs, video recorders and music players available from many manufacturers around the world.
"The value of a product is no longer created in the factories, but at the point of interaction with the consumer. So we need to have a clear understanding of consumer values," said Philips design chief Stefano Marzano.
"This is the reason why design is now seen as a core strategic way. Design is a strategy for companies eager to generate qualities rather than (products)," he added.