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IT Visualization and Project Communication: Designing a mobile speaker

Andreas Hammer Uncategorized Leave a Comment

I just finished up another exciting course. It served as an introduction to visualization and designing, and different ways to approach design. We were tasked with coming up with a concept for a mobile speaker, and each person was given a word to incorporate into their designs and concept. I was given the word robust.

In the beginnings of the course a lot of handdrawing and sketching was required. Now, I’ve never been very good with a pencil, but I’ve always admired those who are. Some of the earliest assignments required us to try and intepret our given word into surfaces and physical models.

The pictures above showcase some of my attempts at doing so. I’ve always considered myself bad at drawing, but what I’ve discovered in this course is that you don’t have to be a pro to utilize sketching in your design process. The value lies in externalizing your ideas and communicating your thoughts to whomever you might share the drawings with.

The list of programs we were required to use to take our designs further was quite extensive, especially considering this was a 7 week course. We were introduced to

  • Adobe Illustrator (sketching and logo creation)
  • Adobe InDesign (presentation poster design)
  • Adobe Photoshop (render touch-ups)
  • Rhinoceros 3D (3D model design)

For rendering we could chose/use whatever we preferred. I went with V-Ray for Rhino, as that was the only one I had heard of at the time. I was a total newbie to 3D modeling.

To aid us in designing our speaker, we were required to make moodboards and styleboards. I had no clue what these are, but I came to appreciate them, despite our brief introduction to these tools. Moodboards are collages of pictures, textures and text, that aid the designer in conveying a certain mood or feel. Qualitative things that can’t as such be described. It helps designers convey a thematic setting for the idea/design. Styleboards are kind of like moodboards, the critical difference being that Styleboard containts actual existing designs. Below is my first ever go at making a moodboard and a styleboard.



If you wish to read more about using moodboards and styleboards in your design process, you can take a look here. Last, but not least, we were also required to make up a persona and scenarios. A persona is the sort of person you’re designing for. You invent an imaginary person, so to say. Scenario’s are examples of how your product is used.


My persona


One of my scenarios

For me, the most enjoyable part was designing my speaker and modeling it in Rhino. I’ve really come to love the program, and I know that I’ll be using it a lot moving on to future projects. The software is easy to learn, rich in functionality and allows you to quickly test out ideas and concept that you have for your design.


Rendering out a proper image proved harder, and I’ve tried Rhino’s own render engine and V-Ray for Rhino. After completing the course, however, I’ve discovered a program called KeyShot, which seems very powerful for rendering beautiful images. Can’t wait to play around with it some more, and hopefully use it in the future.

The concept

I named my speaker the beehive. I was inspired by naturally robust things, and quickly fell over hexagonal shapes. I found them to be aesthetically pleasing, but also make sense in incorporating it in robust design, as hexagonal shapes prove to be the most robust way to divide a surface into smaller surfaces, as shown in for example beehives, aha!

I wanted to design something for the wealthy business man with an active lifestyle. Something that didn’t slow him down, something that he could bring on his mountainbike rides and not fear for breaking it, but also something that looks exclusive and luxurious enough to use at home in the living room. The top and bottom part of the speaker are made of hardened rubber, and the middle part containing the vital parts of the speaker itself, in aluminum. The shape of the speaker naturally protects the speakers vital parts from taking damage when falling over or being bumped into. Interaction with the speaker is made through the top part. In the middle is an LCD screen that shows information about bluetooth connectivity and battery status, and surrounding it is the volume changer and off switch. Now, many of my co-students designed luxurious looking speakers using touch-interaction. But this would not be suitable for my kind of speaker. The speaker is meant to also be used while on the go, for example – as shown in the scenario above – hanging off of a backpack while biking. Touch interaction pretty much requires visual information, and that would not be easy to make with a speaker hanging off of your backpack. So I wanted to make the interaction very tactile, and easy to use without looking at the speaker.

A neat – but maybe unnecessary – feature I designed, was to insert magnets along the top of the speakers sides. This would allow multiple speakers to snap together in a beehive shaped grid. NFC chips inserted into the speakers would allow the speakers to synchronize and play the same source of music.

The course concluded with an oral examination where you were required to bring an A2 poster that explained your concept, and a physical model. Given my new found love for 3D software, I chose to create my model to be 3D-printable and give that a go. Sadly, the print job failed overnight, and there was no time to try again. So my model is approximately half the height it should be, but hopefully it conveys the shape and look of the product anyways.

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This course was a lot of fun, and has served as an introduction to many useful tools that I’m sure I’ll be using a lot in future product design projects. Overall it went really well, perhaps I should’ve put a bit more time into sketching. Just in case you wonder, I got a 12 (A).