Technology has the capacity to enhance the way we live. But the promise of ‘seamless’ solutions and multi-purpose products has created an appetite for more. Limitless options sound like an incredible gift, but when it comes to functionality, it is a new story. Device connectivity issues often arise as different platforms and products clash and interact, creating more problems than they solve. One industry that continues to be revolutionised by developments in technology, is the music sector. Digitalisation, streaming services and wireless technology have changed the way we experience music.
As a human centered design agency, we are interested in lifestyle evolution and are always mindful of the customer experience. We want to create life-enriching solutions that declutter, minimise distractions and avoid adding to life’s white noise. When working with this audio technology, we considered the role of intangible components in how we interact with the world.
Bang & Olufsen have a heritage of understanding user behaviour and aspiring to create elegant products that echo this. From the beginning, we were addressing two conflicts: how to make a dislocated music environment feel complete – and how to simplify technology for the user to make music more accessible.
Our customer insights revealed that many products, designs and applications were trying to do everything for everyone, rather than focusing on doing key things really well. When creating the BeoSound Essence, we explored intuition, instinct and simplicity.
When it came to concept design and product architecture, we looked at key environmental elements, light and sound. We were inspired by the simplicity of a light switch controlling light – and we wanted to design something for music that captured this powerful sense of purpose. We wanted to deliver this in a way that felt natural and effortless for the customer and improved their experience. Using the BeoMusic app, you can pick up where you left off, listening to music from a range of sources.
We divided the sound system into two components. One, a simple white hideaway box containing all the technical functionality that would plug into the user’s Bang & Olufsen hi-fi. And two, the remote interface – the spirit of the concept – designed for direct interaction, simplified right down to key functions.
Our homes have a unique flow. It was important that our design was easy to integrate into different environments. We considered the user’s space and created both a table top version and a wall-mounted design for the remote to complement how different individuals like to engage with music.
As a result the final BeoSound Essence design simplified the personal music experience. Holistically integrated into a home space, the interface has the tactile charm of old-school analogue audio, resulting in a smooth and intuitive design that was at once gentle and impactful. Reducing the interface to core operations meant the product delivered on an unspoken promise – effective, efficient and seamless music control that is quicker and easier to use than a smart device.
The simplicity and aesthetic of its final form further declutters the home, with a device that changes the perception of technology in a living environment. The BeoSound Essence is technology that is not perceived as technology – ultimately, the priority is not gadgetry, but music.
The BeoSound Essence received recognition as a 2014 Red Dot Design Award winner.