Human-Centered Design (HCD) in Practice

This report introduces an example of HCD (Human-Centered Design) initiatives in products and services.

Making life with aibo more comfortable -- aibo Territory

Applying our development concept that aibo's future is created together with its owners, we listen carefully to the requests and opinions of aibo owners. The aibo Territory function released in September 2021 is another feature developed from feedback from owners.

This function uses a map installed on the My aibo smartphone application to teach aibo to avoid certain places in the house by positioning virtual chili peppers that have a smell that aibo does not like. It was developed to resolve the anxiety of owners who want to let their aibo play freely but are worried that they cannot watch it constantly and prevent it from entering places they want it to avoid. This anxiety was identified from analyses of direct questions and requests from owners at aibo fan meetings, postings on the Facebook group for aibo fans, and survey results. We shared ideas with the people involved on how to enable owners to live comfortably with aibo by teaching it where it should not go. We then created several proposals for functions to tell aibo to avoid certain places. aibo owners from within the company conducted assessments, while developers who were living with aibo at home carried out field tests to realize functions that are easy to use and incorporate into daily life.

Many owners are delighted that these efforts have led to the realization of the aibo Territory system, which allows them to live with aibo more comfortably.

Listening to the opinions of owners is essential for aibo’s development because they see it as a family member. We proactively collect opinions and requests by organizing opportunities for direct interaction between developers and owners, such as aibo fan meetings and the Sony aibo Community. HCD experts are promoting a series of activities aimed at understanding owners' feelings and behaviors by collecting opinions and requests. They also create user scenarios and UI specifications, release functions after concept assessments, and communicate the experiential values of the functions on websites and other media in an easy-to-understand manner. In this way, we realize a comfortable life for owners and aibo by developing functions for aibo and engaging in post-release communications and other joint creative activities with owners.

WF-1000XM4 Fully Wireless Headphones package design combines miniaturization with ease of use

The WF-1000XM4 features a major update of the successor WF-1000XM3 model's packaging design. The simple design of the compact enclosure greatly facilitates the customer's setup experience.

The product packaging not only protects the product itself from external shocks, but also provides the customer with foolproof guidance on how to start using the product with the greatest of ease. As customers unpack the product, they are intuitively given the information necessary for completing necessary operations such as installing the dedicated application, charging the product itself, and connecting to Bluetooth®. This customer experience was actually achieved with the previous WF-1000XM3 model, but we enlisted our HCD experts, planners, designers, and design staff to work together on conducting operational log analyses, prototyping, and usability testing to ensure that the smaller packaging design did not compromise this in any way. To provide the necessary information in an easy-to-understand manner in the limited printed materials available, we identified the points that required explanation and aspects of the design that needed review by creating and verifying a number of prototype packaging patterns. Based on the results, we made a number of improvements, including changes in the wording, illustrations, and layout, as well as the product's external packaging.
Repeated verification and improvements enabled us to achieve a significantly smaller package design that intuitively guides customers through the necessary operations.

Visual Story provides photographers with new experiential values

In December 2020, Sony launched Visual Story, a new cloud service for photographers of weddings and other events. The service was born out of an initiative to create new experiential values for professional camera users.

"I want to look back on the precious memories of the day and share them with dear friends and family immediately."
Meeting such demands from clients used to be a difficult challenge for photographers because it takes considerable time to edit and select photographs of such events.
Sony conducted user research with photographers in the United States, China, and Japan with a view to resolving the issues involved. We accompanied photographers for days at a time, observing their behavior and interviewing them to ascertain what they were doing before, during and after shoots, and the environments they worked in. Based on the results, we analyzed the actions and thoughts of photographers in chronological order to identify the ideal customer experience that the solution should achieve, and the functions and UI (user interface) necessary to realize that experience. We also conducted client interviews and questionnaires to determine the experiences they wished for, and the necessary functions and UI.
This user research and analytical process involved members of the solutions development team, including planners, designers, and design staff, as well as HCD experts. Understanding the behavior and thoughts of actual users and implementing ongoing improvements through the PDCA cycle enabled us to achieve appropriate functions and an easy-to-use UI.

The result of these activities was Visual Story, which has revolutionized the photographer's conventional workflow and allows same-day deliveries. Delivering images of the client's precious event in the form of a storybook has also created added value and a new experience for both the photographer and the client.

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