CONTROL IT!

Project Brief...
. . .

Decide on a product to focus on

Learn user pain points via interviews

Determine the target audience


*Redesign the product with special attention to the user experience


Introduction

 

In our daily lives, we interact with many products with electronic controls and software interfaces.

Control it seeks to understand the user’s need for specific data, and supporting it by finding the best possible way to retrieve it through a clear interface.

 

Recording convenience

Within the last two years, I have started to record and mix my own music. In order to learn Adobe Audition and Premiere, I used my Asus laptop’s built-in microphone, despite its low quality.
Because I am an audiophile, I started to learn about more recording options with microphones.


I soon learned of USB microphones and their convenience. These microphones are marketed to the casual user, avoid traditional complex interfaces, and are ready to plug into the computer and simple to setup. The price point is much lower then professional microphones, but they sacrifice very little quality.

 
When I approached Control It, I theorized that the interface should reflect its market.

Market Research

 
 

The Interview

 

The preliminary
interview

What do you use a microphone for?

What microphone do you have?

Why did you purchase that microphone?

If any, what would you do to improve your experience when recording?

Are there issues you run into when using a microphone?

 

 

 

Common User Pain Points and Suggestions

Noise from adjusting settings

Noise from echo of room

Confusing audio symbols

Microphone position to mouth-level

No way to hold it comfortably/dismount fast

Bumping into objects with suspension boom

Built-in compression


Areas of Improvement

Ergonomics and Mounting

 

A user wishes to have a microphone that will dismount with ease.

Microphones have a perfect cylindrical shape profile. Does not lend itself to being held ergonomically.

 

Existing Articulations

 

These are articulations of current USB microphones in the market. 

The most successful design is center balanced.

 

 

Weight distribution of the Audio-Technica AT2020USB Plus is off-centered. By consequence, the microphone can tip over.

 
 

Weight distribution of the Yeti pro is balanced at the center.

Pop filter

A pop filter is a necessity when recording vocals. Using a filter reduces the harsh sounds produced when making “p” or “k” sounds.

 
 

The user found that the traditional pop filter is hard to mount.

Once mounted, the goose neck does not hold its position well and takes awhile to get it just right.

 

Once mounted, the goose neck must be adjusted to be directly in between the user and the microphone.

I’ve taken up to twenty minutes trying to find a place to put this thing
— Adolfo Castillo

Confusing symbols

 

A user found that the symbols displayed on the interfaces of USB microphones did not clearly communicate which side of the microphone to speak from.

 

The target market for USB microphones are casual users seeking convenience and a decent recording. Their plug-and-play design avoids complex interface.

Ideation

Possible Features

USB microphones only requires 5V and 500mA of power. By having it’s own power source, it becomes portable.

LCD interface for clarity and precision

Feedback from the product helps the user understand what they are inputting.

If the microphone is portable, data will still need to be accessed. Finding alternate ways to retrieve recordings will be needed.

Razer branding design cues

360° Pop filter

Besides being hard to work with, the traditional pop filter can only have one user recording at a time.

One of the selling points of USB microphones is having three condenser capsules and the ability to adjust them to dictate where you may record from.  The max area of recording is 360°.

Since the traditional pop filter does not cover  360° of the microphone, the user can’t take advantage of the functionality.

Here I explore some ideas of how to remedy this. 

Intuitive controls

When a louder sound is needed, a conductor typically increases the range of motion with a baton. Alternatively, when a quiet sound is needed, they decrease the range of motion.


Point and lift your finger, then lower it and associate it to sound.  All that were asked agreed that the higher gesture indicated louder sound, while the lower gesture indicates a quieter sound.
Here, I adapt the concept for the interface of the microphone.

Interface

 

After deciding upon the gesture-based interface, features of the dial based interface of competing microphones were adapted. Controls were moved around to adjust for the interface.
In addition, styling has been applied in this step.

Final Ideation

 

The design for the microphone is finalized by adding realistic dimensions in AutoCAD. Sizing was based off of previous generations of microphones.


Final Solution

CAD model

 

The final idea was modeled in Solidworks according to the established dimensions.

360° cap

 

This new take on a pop filter covers all sides of the microphone,  encouraging the recording of vocals on every side

In addition, it is extremely easy to setup. The cap lip is lined with a magnetic strip that latches directly to the microphone.  In addition, it is compact enough to keep on the microphone when packing up.

 

 
Cap-On.gif
 

Visual feedback

Turn textured rubber dial to change setting. LED’s light up to indicate active recording points.

 

The location of the mode dial has been moved to near the condenser microphones themselves. A frosted plastic diffuses the LED indication.

In addition, the symbol that correlates with the mode will be displayed on the LED screen. 

 
Red logo LED pulse during recording

Red logo LED pulse during recording

 

No computer required

 

USB  microphones can already plug into the computer and are ready to go. However, if the microphone has its own power source, the need for the computer is eliminated.

With internal memory and a power source in the base,  you can take this microphone anywhere. Record your guitar at a campsite, or at a friends house, the possibilities are endless.

 

5V 300mA power supply
plug or battery for on the go power supply

Data storage or connect to devices

 

Gesture control

 

Gesture controls eliminate the need for dials and create an interface that is intuitive.

 

Selecting he headphone icon adjusts the volume of any headphones connected. The microphone adjusts gain, which is an increase in the power of the signal. When selected, the current setting being adjusted will appear in the LCD.

 

First, select either the microphone or headphone icon, then slide your finger on or near the slide bar.  Sliding your finger up increases the setting while sliding down decreases the current setting.

 

The final design

The interface should reflect its market.

This microphone represents this philosophy. By making interface intuitive and mixing in Razer’s branding language, this idea has the potential to tap into the casual recording market.