Humly Room Display - an award winning design journey
For the last decade I have been involved in developing and producing several generations of meeting room displays. But when we started the Humly Room Display project it was the first project we only had internal stakeholders - it was to be launched together with our new brand Humly at ISE 2020.
I wanted to make it really special. Since we were refining and improving on a decade of experience I knew we would be top of the line in terms of functionality, security and scalability - but with a new brand we aimed for a design that would set a new landmark for this product category for the next decade.
We knew that No Picnic, our long term partner for industrial design would be our perfect partner for this project. And together with our engineers and suppliers the journey began.
We did not want to create a “professional tablet with a wall mount”. We wanted to create a piece of interior design! We wanted it to look and feel unique and the teams involved paid attention to every detail.
After some “paper products” we early evaluated different shapes and forms by creating volume mock ups so we could start to get a feeling for the product by mounting the mockups on the wall.
Another very important aspect was finding the right display panel for it. It needed longevity, excellent viewing angels and we really wanted the black to be as deep as possible. We also wanted a panel that was thin, with a small bezel so we would have as little “dead” area on the display as possible.
We were able to quite quickly narrow it down to just a handful of panels, but to get the “single black surface” feeling we were looking for we also needed the perfect cover glass. By the time we were able to decide on the lcd-panel we had 28 different cover glass versions in different materials that we wanted to evaluate.
“The slim, hovering design creates a light and non-intrusive appearance that easily blends into any office environment as a part of the interior. This subtle, discreet presence is enhanced by hiding the device's volume with angled surfaces and a backlight that make it easy to see the booking status from a distance”
Together with three different suppliers we manufactured all 28 variations and began testing them in different scenarios by mounting them on six 3D-printed cases with prototype electronics.
We revived six variations at the time and kept two favourites in each round until we had a winner. We found the matte “single black surface” effect we wanted. Unfortunately the winning version was not ideal as the material was lacking some properties we desired. So together with one of the suppliers we invented a new cover glass material with the desired properties to make the combination of visual aesthetics and material properties to meet our goals.
In parallel with the panel and cover glass evaluation we had started to play around with light prototypes to create a “floating” effect to give the illusion of the panel hovering in front of the wall while still providing excellent visibility but without being brighter than necessary.
As soon as we had prototypes we mounted a few units on an IKEA kitchen door so we could move it around easily to test different lighting conditions to make sure the light effects were suitable in dark hallways, regular office light, direct sunlight and many other scenarios.
From an end user perspective we now had the “final” experience nailed. But there was still improvements to be made. Even if the end user perspective is a very important one we also wanted to make sure this product would be very easy to install. Due to the limited space around the connectors we tested out several different cable routes to make sure it was possible to exit the network or power cables in any direction. We ended up changing the cable routing a couple of times to optimize for the most common scenarios and we added some “hooks” to help holding the cables while mounting the device as well as a cable tie hole to secure cables if needed.
Thanks to the fantastic partnership with designers, engineers and suppliers we were able to create a product that we are really proud of and it is thanks to this collaboration between passionate teams and individuals we have been able to be nominated and win both a Red Dot Award and the iF Design Award.