• Client
    Forward Labs
  • Link
  • Hardware
    Visual Design
    Interaction Design

Our client sought to rethink our relationship with streaming audio through a nostalgia of radio and typical French joie-de-vivre. How can we connect with music in an organic way that isn't obscured by a smart screen but also full of whimsy? Enter the Padam Speaker– a portable wi-fi speaker that lets you play what you want or discover something new, all with a twist of a knob.

  • Overview

Take Forward Labs' nostalgic vision of the future and design the controls and interface to match.

Capabilities to include
• Connect to various streaming services
• Connect to wi-fi
• Discover new music
• Play favorite playlists
• Start a radio station
• Favorite a track
• Change volume
• Shuffle/Unshuffle
• Auditory & visual feedback to all of the above

Cyril Labidi - CEO of Forward-Labs
Generation Studio - Industrial Design
Laura Blanchard - Design Direction
Ron Morris - Design Direction
Jasmine Lin - UX Design Support
Megan Greco - Visual Design Support
Jake Lunde - UX Design

Consulting & design strategy, process mapping, concepting, wireframing, visual design, motion design, design documentation

  • Discovery

  • Competitive Research

In order to better understand the space, competitors and inspirational experiences, we went broad looking across software and hardware at streaming services, fitness bands and any other products with light feedback as the primary interface.

Through this we better understood:
• Several ways to use light arrays to communicate meaning and status
• No others in the portable speaker space were taking this approach
• We’ll need a holistic approach combining hardware and software
• Clear and smooth onboarding will be critical

  • Design

  • Framework Exploration

Based on the industrial design, we explored widely how we might visualize the hardware controls and feedback within their established button layout.

But we needed a clearer definition around intent and usage of each of the buttons and knobs. We generated several process diagrams detailing the each knob & button from hardware and feature perspectives. Mapping how tracks and playlists move in from other musical experiences was critical here as well.  

  • Design Exploration

Beyond that, we considered a huge array of variations of LED arrays and knob & button layouts, icons, colors, and lights.

After several rounds, we landed on a small 5 by 20 all-white LED array between the knobs and buttons. Within these constraints, we explored all the different ways we could communicate with users:
• abstract
• representational
• explicit text and numerals

Based on research provided by the client, we drafted up short user stories to play out the interface. What happens when someone uses it first thing in the morning? Starts from standby mode? Looks for something new? Wants to keep listening to more of the same?

  • Design Refinement

From there we worked to detail options for the specific light effects for each and every use case. The combination of features to be distributed across the knobs (volumes, discover, and favorites) and button triggers (shuffle, start radio, and like track). The companion app integration needed to be detailed here, as well.

  • Motion Studies

Although we weren't on the hook for the mobile app and interface, I wanted to make sure some of the interactions were perfectly clear through a Flinto prototype.

After finalizing the use cases across the buttons and knobs we detailed, I generated several motion studies in After Effects to bring them to life.

  • Documentation

Lastly, to help the industrial designers and engineers, we generated documentation around the framework, use cases, and all visualizations.

Including audio and visual descriptions and justification for:
• On/Off
• Volume
• Shuffle/Unshuffle
• Play/Pause
• Skip
• Favorite/Unfavorite
• Discover
• Start radio station

  • Outcomes

Armed with our designs, videos and documentation, Forward Labs launched their Kickstarter, as a "Project We Love" according to the site. Unfortunately their funding was unsuccessful. They have since pivoted to a similar offering targeted toward children and expression through music. Hopefully we'll be toting these speakers around our homes sometime soon.