Electronic Devices - Feature Overload?

Allison and Vince talk about the many features available in today's electronic devices.


Recent Video
blog comments powered by Disqus
Transcript For This Video

Designing high tech electronic equipment

Today we are looking at the engineering challenges of high tech electronics. Have you seen how many features are crammed into a simple cell phone? We now expect our smart-phones to store address lists, send email, manage our calendars, take pictures, browse the web, and even play music and movies. In fact, their original purpose now seems to be their most frustrating shortcoming v conversation. Companies have finally figured out that phone technology is merging with desktop computing, so watch for a blizzard of new tablet PCs about to hit your local electronics store. Companies have finally figured out that phone technology is merging with desktop computing, so watch for a blizzard of new tablet PCs about to hit your local electronics store.

Photocopiers, like smart phones, are doing a lot more than they used to. Multi-function copiers now print, fax and scan as well as copy. But engineers designing new copiers have to balance the cost of manufacturing against popular features like print speed, memory, and resolution. With this blizzard of new features comes pressure on designers and engineers to manufacture more models faster than ever before. Epson, for example makes hundreds of multi-function printers with thousands of configurations. The Epson engineering team uses a direct modeling approach to leverage their existing designs and develop new products faster. The direct modeling system they use lets designers modify older designs without having to know anything about the original geometry. Epson's designs are now also all in 3D, which means that designers can more clearly see and communicate their ideas. This all means that products get to market faster than ever.

Why do you see shutters on houses, but the shutters don't close? Shutters used to serve a purpose, but now, they are purely aesthetic. Electronics designers have to deal with this issue all the time, from graphical depictions of dials and gauges, to digital cameras that play the sound of an old shutter click. It's called Skeuomorphic design and it helps users leverage their experience using a new device. As the worlds of the physical and the electronic converge, this will become an even more important topic for designers.