Feature Design Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20K
Feature Design Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20K

Taking MP4 camera usability up a touch

Akagawa: We took on user interface design working closely with our product designers. On the hardware side, as Yuji mentioned, focusing on simplicity and clarity helped us narrow down the controls to three physical buttons. Still, we'd be moving in the wrong direction if eliminating physical buttons made operation more difficult. For better usability, functions that would otherwise be handled by buttons had to be assigned to GUI elements.

A good example of this is how you zoom. This Bloggie incorporates a touchscreen, and on the screen, you'll see a slider. To zoom in or out, you slide this virtual control with your finger. We ensured that the slider is always displayed in a convenient position. It's within reach whether you're holding the camera vertically or horizontally, or in your left or right hand. The slider and the symmetrical body layout, centered around the movie button, are both examples of universal design that enable the same shooting operations in either hand.

The user interface is also neatly organized, based on how important functions are in the tasks people want to do. There are essentially three menu screens-for shooting, playing back, or sharing videos. You'll know intuitively how to access desired functions. Function icons are consistent with those on Handycam and Cyber-shot cameras. If you're familiar with Sony products, you won't need to check the manual, but even first-time users won't be confused once they try it.

When this model was announced, Sony was the first manufacturer with a touchscreen-operated MP4 camera. UI development had taken some time, as we made sure the camera was intuitive to use, checked the display size of on-screen controls, and confirmed that they were within reach. Fortunately, in the end, the product concept and "story" of how you use the camera were clear. And because of this, in all respects of functionality, operation, and how controls are presented, we created a compelling product that just had to be this way.

Sheathed in refinement, simple and solid

Oikawa: Research told us that the camera should be straightforward as well as tough enough to withstand casual use on the go. Not tough like the massive outdoor products on the market, but a refined yet spartan appearance that reassures you the camera will stand up to a little rough handling.

With these user needs in mind, we chose a "candybar" format, without moving parts. Seemingly sheathed entirely in aluminum, it looks seamless and solid. Concealing all external screws was one detail we insisted on.

It may seem rather plain at first glance, but this compact body houses a few complex mechanisms, such as a USB jack. Disguising this complexity took a little ingenuity, but with help from our diligent engineers, we managed to wrap it all up in an impressive little package.

One more impression I wanted to convey through the basic body structure was the innovative combination of hybrid devices-in this case, a camera that captures both video and still images well. Most MP4 cameras only shoot video, but the fact that this one can shoot video and take photos sets it apart. We expressed the novel duality of a hybrid through contrasting materials-glossy around the lens, next to a brushed aluminum body. I think these finishes and the clean contours make the camera look casual yet elegant and luxurious.

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