"It needs style. It needs to stand out against the competition. We need to make 3rd parties look amazing. Create a framework from scratch on the Tizen platform."
Designing the user experience of a smartwatch is more than watch faces and an app launcher. There are no set standards or patterns to follow. If you want to be successful you need to break new ground; and you need an holistic approach to the challenges at hand.
- Define an interaction and UI framework
- Create a visual style and guidelines
- Conceptualize numerous apps and services
- Deliver impactful material that will achieve stakeholder buy-in
DESIGN AT THE CORE
Take all of the challenges of creating a mobile OS - and then take that technology and move it to the wrist, making it always present. Add highly dynamic factors like context and biometrics to the mix. There are a lot of moving parts and plenty of stakeholders to think of.
Designers on the Topp team have been lead designers on 5 operating systems now, including Google Android, BlackBerry 10, and Tizen OS. Our design-centric platform thinking encompasses a familiarity with emerging tech, and a desire to support a community of designers and developers.
Naturally, for a framework that needs to support flagship products like the Gear S2, it takes more than a single design partner’s efforts. Under extreme secrecy in Malmö and Seoul, we worked closely with Samsung’s internal design and dev teams. We’ve been challenging each other throughout the entire process. The work goes deeper than simply just UI-design, we wanted to enable a companion to the user, not simply a tethered experience to the phone.
PROTOTYPE TO PERFECTION
Today, the Gear S2 stands alone in its capabilities: Leave your phone at home through 3G connection, rich notifications, best in class interaction, and a fantastic display. Defining the details that would make this and future devices stand out was crucial.
Above: An early app launcher experiment. Prior to hardware completion, testing the physical / digital interaction model was done by prototyping hundreds of design iterations with Topp's own tooling called Noodl.
Within a couple months we had created hundreds of prototypes exploring everything from new services to interactions to visual transitions and style. Rich prototypes are the only way to evaluate complex experiences, particularly ones that are leveraging cutting edge technology.
We are excited to see the impact that the Gear S2 will have in people’s lives. There’s a foundation here that’s richer than the toss-in-the-drawer gadgets we’re used to. Beyond the solid interaction and visual style, designing experiences that promote better health, self expression, and new types of contextual experiences were all significant goals. Add to it that we can leave our phone at home and stay fully connected to the people around us, and we know that the Gear S2 will stand out in the emerging field of wearables.