Strategy over Beauty

A few weeks ago INNGAGE received the grand prize in the Samsung Mobile Design Competition in the Next Mobile + category with Star of Galaxy, a robotic arm that turns any Samsung Galaxy device into an intelligent countertop virtual assistant, by being integrated with Bixby. This is the story behind the product. A conversation between Dezeen and INNGAGE team.

(Dezeen) Describe your Samsung Mobile Design Competition design in a sentence or two.

(INNGAGE) A product that reflects a seamless integration between software and hardware, giving people the creative freedom to become the star of their experience.

1. What made you take part in the competition?

First, the idea of working with a company like Samsung which represents a huge opportunity for us. Second, our passion for the segment of consumer products and technological solutions. And of course, being a global competition co-organized with Dezeen, the exposure it could bring.

2. What inspired your design?

The inspiration behind Star of Galaxy came about from a well-known trend: collaborative robotics. Our goal was to create an accessory that would truly add value to Galaxy’s devices, and likewise bring integration to the existing software developments from Samsung. So, we designed a device that becomes a real personal assistant for the user through collaborative robotics and a brain called Bixby.

Through Bixby, Star of Galaxy is more than a stand that follows you. It becomes a true personal assistant that collaborates with you in whatever you want. The design of the stand responds to the notion of collaborative robotics. The articulated arm allows total rotation and tilt, captures everything using the front and back cameras of Galaxy’s devices. This ability to follow you in every direction and the vocal recognition from Star, allied to the software integration, represents a leap in the market.

So, we designed a device that becomes a real personal assistant for the user through collaborative robotics and a brain called Bixby.

3. What influenced your aesthetic choices?

In terms of aesthetics, we analyzed the visual language of Samsung and tried to design a device that could match the brand portfolio. The soft edges, the contrast between colors and materials, the friendly but technological look, aims to communicate the positioning of Samsung. We wanted to avoid the techie look of most robotic products, so we’ve decided to go with a mixture of plastic and textile, aiming for a more domestic product. Some of Samsung products like Galaxy S10, Dex, Duo Pad wireless charger or the Multiroom 360 R1, were important references in terms of color, finish, and material.

4. What emerging trends or technologies does your design embrace?

First, the notion of collaborative robotics. The idea that robots can collaborate with humans and not being expected to do everything alone. This approach makes a more friendly coexistence between humans and robots. Also, the trend of virtual personal assistants and artificial intelligence. Since Samsung is working on Bixby as their platform for a virtual personal assistant, we integrated that into our product, using voice and facial recognition as the main interface between user and product.

5. Who is this design for?

Designed for a savvy tech audience and masters of the art of self-expression, both seeking recognition and creative freedom. They love the image potentiality and recognize in Samsung cameras an ally for their identity. Star speaks to this audience, giving them unique and innovative opportunities.

6. How would you describe your design philosophy or approach?

We always design with three things in mind: people, industry and market. Our commitment is to design product experiences that make sense, with the focus on who will experience them, who will produce them and the market they will compete in. For this competition, our approach was no different. We tried to design a product that could improve the daily experience of people. In the case of Star, it allows new ways of capture and share moments or ideas. Also, a product that is feasible in terms of production. The shape and materials have been chosen to allow a quick production if needed. For the market side, our approach relied on the objective of designing an accessory that would fit the portfolio strategy of Samsung and add value to different products from the brand.

Our commitment is to design product experiences that make sense, with the focus on who will experience them, who will produce them and the market they will compete in.

7. Describe your design process towards the final design result.

The research was divided into two processes. One for all the insights that we could collect from Samsung as a brand, so we could understand the brand vision for the future, and another around consumer trends and habits regarding the way they deal with their smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches.

After understanding the vision of Samsung on creating tools that empower people to be more creative, our ideation question came to be: how can we create a new accessory that empowers users creative freedom, using their own devices. After that, Star was thought to be a robotic stand for Samsung Galaxy devices that promotes new experiences and features. An articulated structure that follows and assists the user via face and voice recognition, through a seamless combination with Bixby.

Once the opportunity was identified we start by prototyping the concept in a very quick way to validate the mechanic part of the system, and also to assure that it could fit in the Galaxy family devices. After that, we sketch different solutions and test different combinations of materials, always having the Galaxy devices as reference. With the mechanics validated and the shape defined, the process of CAD and rendering started, supported by clear storytelling that promotes an assertive way of explaining the concept.

8. What are you working on next?

At INNGAGE we work in very different fields, from business and portfolio strategy to product development, from need to market. At this moment we are developing a range of new products and strategies for sustainable packaging. In addition, we have a constant presence in the area of motorcycle protections and accessories (for motocross and enduro) regarding the safety of pilots. In the near future, we also want to work on clean energy and embrace more projects around sustainability, always being faithful to our approach: to design product experiences that make sense.