Feature Design x-Application

Finding answers in scenarios where users have fun

Ippei Tambata

Tambata: Let me give some examples of the satisfying new experiences x-Applications offer, so they're easier to visualize. Have you ever viewed images from a digital camera on your TV set? It's more engaging than looking at printed photos. Images really come to life on large, bright screens. But we thought even this can't draw people in and excite them about viewing photos, without a little modification.

Wouldn't you rather watch a series of photos edited into a presentation like a video clip or movie—a slideshow, with a sense of narrative? That's the idea behind x-Pict Story. Whether you're partying with friends or quietly reminiscing alone, you can choose slideshows for the right mood with different effects, transitions, and background music. Try it yourself, and you'll see how the photos excite your emotions and draw you in. In other words, technology takes care of the impressive picture quality and resolution, but that's the easy part. This is also a satisfying experience that makes people want to view photos on TV—precisely the goal we focused on.

Sure, you could use other editing tools for similar results as with x-Pict Story, but that would take lots of time and effort. What's most important if you want to view photos on a TV is probably cherishing the moment of enjoying the images then and there. We bring you closer to this moment by providing a user interface that streamlines the many intermediate steps. That's why the process of creating slideshows in x-Pict Story is fully automated. Of course, more customized slideshows are also possible, by adding background music from CDs, for example.

Incidentally, the first Sony product an x-Application was bundled with was a digital video recorder (DVR). This is a device for enjoying video, but we included this application for enjoying digital photos. Some users were probably surprised to find x-Applications open the door to using their DVR as a home server, with their TV as a monitor, for viewing images. These discoveries contribute to a satisfying new user experience. We interact with devices in new ways and adopt new habits. Currently, x-Applications are already bundled with a range of devices, and in the future, we'd like to offer some as Web Applications you can use online.

Software can shape hardware development

Feature Design x-Application

Utsuki: x-Pict Story is also bundled with Sony's HDMS-S1D, a storage device that serves as a high-definition digital photo album. But it would be wrong to say the app was a free add-on. In fact, closer to the opposite is true—as if the HDMS-S1D were developed as a way to enjoy x-Pict Story to the fullest.

Traditionally, the hardware (in this case, a storage device) would have been planned first. When it came time to solve the issue of how to simplify the process of finding desired images from among the massive amounts of photos stored on it, well, that's when the designers would show their skills. This time, the application was developed and evaluated first, from the standpoint of the user experience, which then inspired ideas as we planned the hardware and software together.

The HDMS-S1D is just one device, but x-Pict Story is also linked to the BRAVIA, Cyber-shot, and a (alpha) product lines. We're hoping people pick up new habits, you see. Instead of printing digital photos for albums, why not enjoy the images on a TV? Modern television sets show subtle shades of expression that aren't apparent in prints. Some consumers probably want to step up to higher-resolution cameras now, because of this. It's an opportunity to invite people to get the most from their Sony products. Making these solutions possible means approaching hardware development with software in mind. And I think the time is right for Sony's trial period with this kind of development.

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