Feature Design Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20K
[ 2011.5.20 up ]

From unboxing till shooting freely, a new story unfolds

Bloggie Touch is an MP4 video camera that's making waves in North America. Behind its popularity is the camera's refined finish and universal design: you can hold it vertically, horizontally, or in either hand while shooting video. Pick one up, and you'll find yourself embarking on an enjoyable and exciting new story-an exceptional user experience, courtesy of Sony's ambitious and passionate designers in the U.S. and Japan.

Alex Arie
Alex Arie
Sony Electronics
Design Center (U.S.)
Vice President
Yuji Oikawa
Yuji Oikawa
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Senior Designer
Satoshi Akagawa
Satoshi Akagawa
Sony Electronics
Design Center (U.S.)
Senior Designer
Masayuki Hata
Masayuki Hata
Sony Creativeworks
Producer and Senior Designer
Yuko Suzuki
Yuko Suzuki
Sony Corporation
Creative Center
Senior Producer

International, interdisciplinary design collaboration

Arie: Affordable and easy-to-use MP4 cameras are currently very popular in North America. Although Sony holds a top share of the camcorder market and has built a reputation in this category, we're just getting started in MP4 cameras. Managers in this business group agreed that we should develop products more attuned to consumer values in this market. As their sense of urgency grew, they approached those of us in design directly, asking us to work out the design concepts.

What we were called on to design was the whole "story" of the user experience, from unboxing the camera to shooting video to posting it on video-sharing sites. This required a deeper understanding of user values and usage scenarios. We took on our mission by linking two centers of creative work at Sony. The Design Center in North America helps us develop products in line with market needs through planning and research. Our offices in Japan are in a better position to communicate with engineers.

Research revealed that people other than teens (initially our target market) are using these camcorders. They're also taking off among young mothers and seniors, which represents quite a wide segment. Between errands, housework, or parenting, these people want a casual, convenient camera they can use intuitively, essentially without thinking.

To meet these new needs with a product that represents new values, we would have to take an unconventional approach in design development. Accordingly, discussions among our designers brought us beyond the boundaries of specific design disciplines. To decide which direction to take, we adopted a flexible approach and explored several topics at once: ease of use, uploading videos, and even the packaging and manual.

Greater shooting freedom, from universal design

Oikawa: Tight integration of hardware, software, and services was a goal of this project, and we also wanted to arrange a particular "story" throughout the user experience. We contributed from the stage of determining specs, so that we could ensure clear, straightforward operation through the right screen size, control buttons, and other basic details. Our initial conceptual proposals to business group managers not only suggested how the camera should look but also outlined the overall user experience, from unboxing to posting video online. This kept the product concept in clear focus until the camera was launched.

Ultimate simplicity and freedom in shooting was our priority when deciding the specifications. You'll notice that we limited the number of physical buttons on the camera to three: one for power, one for shooting video, and another for photos. This is the result of our quest for simple, straightforward control. For basic shooting, all you need to operate the camera is one button to turn it on and another to start shooting.

Simplicity is just one benefit of having fewer buttons. Another advantage is greater shooting freedom. Besides holding the camera vertically to shoot video, you can also hold it in either hand. If you happen to be holding something in your right hand, you don't need to put it down to take the camera out and start shooting. Just use your other hand. A sensor detects whether you're holding the camera vertically or horizontally, so images are automatically rotated to the correct orientation for display or playback, no matter how you're holding it. That's just one example of how thoroughly we pursued universal design for the camera.

Slip it into your pocket with room to spare. With a body this compact, the camera can go with you whenever you go out. Its great image quality (thanks to a Sony CMOS sensor) is easy to appreciate on the generous, 3-inch LCD screen. You'll see that the specifications are more than adequate, considering the Bloggie's affordable price.

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