When Telenor set about creating their next generation of TV services, we helped them to reinvent and design both a cross platform streaming service as well as the set top box and the remote control.
The design process when doing hardware design differs quite from the typical digital design process. Especially taking in to consideration the large scale of 150 thousand remote control units and set top boxes that take 6 months of shipping.
We conducted over 50 in-depth interviews and user tested more than 30 different remote controls from various manufacturers in order to get the scope right. It had to be perfect.
Prototyping hardware is a slow and extensive process. You sculpt mockups and manufacture 3D-prints, paying attention to shape, weight, balance and button positions.
We needed a way to speed up the process, but this was new territory. How could we take our prototyping knowledge for digital products into prototyping for hardware?
Our great team put their heads together and created a digital prototype of the remote control that could be displayed on a phone, it connected to a different prototype on the TV through a local socket server - Now we quickly and easily could iterate on button layout and functionality.
Over a few very focused iterations, we managed to do multiple rounds of testing and surveys with over 650 participants to get all the physical and functional details right.
The remote control should be designed to fit in to most homes, it had to be easy to find and use, even in a dark room at night, watching a movie.
A key feature we had to incorporate was that the user should never have to look at the remote control, rather just have to feel the buttons and casing to use it.
We achieved this by a lot of distinct small details. The remote control was designed dark and discrete, we had an engraved logo on the top and a recess on the back helped guiding the user to understand which direction the remote control was in his hand.
The buttons was designed in different sizes and materials so the user could navigate by just touching the surface of the buttons.
As the remote control was lifted, the buttons was back lighted, making it easy to find in the dark.