This time, the sliding format has evolved into a clever click mechanism. Each generation proves its value to users in new ways. That seems to be a tradition in Micro Vault USB flash drives. We can thank designers who are not content just to update the appearance. Design has the power to produce added value. Even in the smallest of everyday digital tools, there's no doubt that Sony design DNA is transmitted from one generation to the next.
Sasago: Designing USB flash drives may seem straightforward, but it can be quite frustrating. The internal structure is essentially the same from one manufacturer to another, and there are strict cost constraints. In this saturated market, there's little space on store shelves for products that are more upscale.
With such formidable obstacles in design at the outset, we have our work cut out for us. Even before we try to make Sony models a little special. So, looking for solutions, I turned to Hiroki for art direction and Michio for design. Both had contributed for previous generations in the Micro Vault series, so they both had ample experience. The sliding format of the USM-J series was Michio's idea, so I knew we would be able to get our concepts across to our engineers efficiently. I knew we had a promising team, with the potential to bring users new ideas in design.
Oka: To me, the Micro Vault is like a pen or stylus we use to "write" volumes and volumes of data. It recalls everyday writing tools. These products must have polished design. In products we use all the time, any rough edges that are awkward or inconvenient would bother us.
When I reviewed the sliding format of the previous model, I appreciated how it saves the step of detaching the cap and finding a place to keep it. But it would be even more convenient if we could shorten the body a little. It would stick out less from USB ports when in use—less worrying about it bumping into things. So I suggested this to Michio.
Deguchi: By chance, I was also wondering how we could do this. Still, making it shorter is much easier said than done. There's a limit to what we can do, with this internal structure. At the same time, we wanted to keep the "capless" format. It was another case when designers and engineers took on a challenge we all wanted to solve. To me, this defines the Sony approach. Looking for new ideas, I began sketching.
That's when it all clicked into place, so to speak. In the previous model, the interface is housed in the case, and it slides into USB ports. This leaves behind an empty space inside the case, which takes up as much space as the interface in the port. With the click mechanism, the overall length stays the same, but the case slides to protect or expose the interface.
Because it's more compact in use, it gives you more room for the connection if space is limited around your computer's USB port. Remove it, and the interface is retracted automatically. There's no need to click it again. I think this little form factor is a big advantage for notebook users, who often work where space is limited.