Feature Design Cycle Energy CP-AL/CP-AH
Feature Design Cycle Energy CP-AL/CP-AH/CP-AH

The goal: design that everyone finds perfectly natural

Ueda: Products such as this one may be exceptionally versatile, but it's important when people pick up an innovative product that its design helps them imagine how they would use it. In this case, young people might see themselves tossing it into a bag with their Cyber-shot or Walkman, and older people might imagine bringing it along to charge their grandchildren's PSPs. People of all ages should not hesitate to use it, so we must choose ideal shapes and ensure convenience.

Toward this end, a primary goal of ours is to make products seem more familiar. I thought our first step should be to have the modules look complete whether used together or separately. In any scenario, this would make them seem more natural to people. We also rounded the edges of both modules (which gives them a user-friendly, compact appearance) and created very fine-grained surfaces. This yields just the right glossiness and a comfortable texture, helping to disguise the unit's nature as a portable power supply.

As long as we had come this far in design, we also wanted to conceal the illumination that gives these devices such a "mechanical" image. We embedded the LEDs inside the body, and the color of the light shining through tells you the mode. Usually no indicator is lit, so all you see is a plain, unobtrusive white block. When you charge the battery, an amber glow emanates from under the surface, and when you charge devices, it turns green.

Another way we made the unit accessible to everyone was through reassuring details. Although unfounded, any uneasiness about getting a shock or shorting your devices would make anyone hesitant to use it. This was why we put the charging module terminals on the back of the linkage between modules, to eliminate any potentially unsettling visual elements. We also included a shutter on the USB power supply module where the other module is inserted. This reassures you that if you toss the unit into a bag, there's no need to worry about metallic objects (such as keys) causing shock, or dust accumulating inside. We used the same turquoise color on both the charging module and USB power supply module, so you know intuitively that all you need to do is connect these parts.

Taking modularity to a new level

Okura: This modular concept is promising. For both for the charging module and USB power supply module, we can imagine a variety of usage scenarios and further development in the future. Our task in this project was to explore the possibilities and propose some tangible applications.

The first model we focused on, in this regard, was the CP-AH2R. Unlike the CP-AL, with an integrated Li-ion rechargeable battery, this unit has two removable, rechargeable AA NiMH batteries. Besides using the charged batteries in compatible devices, you can power other devices directly via USB as you can with the CP-AL, making this a two-in-one product.

In design, we strove not to alter the messages we were conveying for the series as a whole. Instead, we distinguished the products through details. We matched the basic design of the CP-AL, but to avoid confusing people at the time of purchase, we had to clarify that the rechargeable batteries set this model apart. That's why the cover of the battery compartment is rounded, like the shape of batteries. Taking a cue from the unmistakable outline of batteries, we also added little bumps on the top of the cover, reminiscent of the positive terminals.

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