Feature Design Sony UI Sound And Light

Narratives traced in light

Kondo:In UI design with lighting effects, Sony is exploring a variety of approaches. Some examples ultimately adopted in the BDV-F700* were prototyped by designers. This Blu-ray Home Theater System follows the same Monolithic Design concept as BRAVIA sets. Here, I tried using light design to make music visible and convey a sense of narrative.

What sets the main unit apart is a stripe of LEDs along the bottom, which takes on various appearances in use. In standby, a single LED glows as a power indicator, maintaining an air of serenity. As a disc is read, light passes from one side to another, like a surging wave. Visually, this pulse of light symbolizes music-sound waves in the air. During playback, you can enjoy music visualization, with light moving in sync to your music. Turn the volume up, and a bar of light expands to the right; turn it down, and it contracts to the left.

If functionality were the only goal, there'd be no need to make products this expressive. It's probably more common to indicate volume with a simple numerical display. But when you consider the listening experience as central, this clinical use of LEDs seems a little like overkill. It can even be seen as visual "noise" in the listening environment. From this perspective, it's enough just to imply the state of a product, and this unit demonstrates how to do it while appealing to your emotions.
*Not available in some areas

A single point of light can alter the mood of a room


Kondo:What we capitalized on here-and what's surprisingly effective-is how light gives products an emotional aspect.

Could we accomplish the same thing with a single point of light? We explored this possibility in a Blu-ray/DVD recorder. Turning it on sparks an LED in the center of the front panel, which quickly glows more brightly. Just as the intensity verges on excessive, it suddenly dies down. This alone seems to imbue the unit with life.

Product designers often convey a sense of precision or elegance through the finish of materials or shapes. Similarly, I treat light as a material and try to make it express the desired qualities. And instead of relying on light as a decorative element, I want our design work to focus on more enjoyable experiences, as you use the product. After all, Sony design is about seeking what's pure and essential, after everything needless is stripped away.

Toward the essence of product development, illuminated and amplified

Mugura:Our conceptions of user interfaces and user experiences continue to evolve, and the expression "customer journey" has gained currency in recent years. This journey unfolds as you take a product out of the box, turn it on for the first time, and learn to use it well. The journey continues even after that point. If we compare these stages of use to a journey, designers must arrange the best experience at each stage. Sound and light are elements in our UI language that are perfectly suited for this role.

What products gain through this kind of design naturally becomes clear, over the course of the journey. Even if Sony electronics must rely on the same, industry-standard operating system or software platform as those of other companies, the products we create are clearly different. I think that's the nature of product development, and I welcome the challenge. Toward this end, it's up to us to take sound and light to new levels while keeping it well integrated in our products.