Sakurai: Now that Windows Vista is finally here, it offers many of the features that VAIO computers offered before its release. This means that computers with the same operating system can offer similar entertainment features. Is the individuality of the VAIO line somehow diminished? Pondering this point, we met with members in planning and engineering to redefine what makes VAIO appealing, from the standpoint of user experience design.
At Sony, we take advantage of many building blocks of technology to go further in design. We might take simple recording and playback of TV programs to the next level, for example, by adding metadata as they are streamed over a network. Designing the screens you view these programs on is just the start; we also design new ways to enjoy the content, based on the metadata. In fact, our application development for Windows-based media center computers was underway at the same time as product development.
The TP1 is intended to be enjoyed while connected to a TV, so we focused on creating an interface design customized for large widescreens. We also sought tight integration with the remote control. The gateway to entertainment is the VAIO remote control launcher. From here, users can access the VAIO remote control browser, which enables web browsing on a TV set. This is an interface designed for remote control operation, so graphics are clear and usability is smooth, even if users are sitting away from the screen.
Our objective was to convince users that even if the operating system and content is the same as they might enjoy on other computers, there's something different about how they can enjoy it in this system, something only Sony can offer. The TP1 is an unprecedented launch for us in this regard. I invite users to enjoy the cosmetic design, but then look beyond it to the applications.
Akagawa: My background is in home product interface design. Because the TP1 is connected to a TV, users would be unsettled if they connected it to a Bravia, let's say, but the control and unit response were inconsistent, despite both being Sony products. So, while applying my knowledge and experience in interface design in living room products, I ran around to planning, engineering, and product designers, as well to the respective managers to coordinate our thoughts on design and specifications. Ultimately, with the support of all members, I think we succeeded in offering users a stress-free, satisfying feeling of control over the TP1. Take my word for it; try it yourself.
Why not enjoy audio-visual entertainment on a computer? The VAIO line was our first invitation. It's an unspoken commitment of ours that we must show leadership in this category. In the TP1, this design DNA is alive and well.