HTC Sports Buddy
What: A distributed computing mobile phone product ecosystem
Where: HTC Concept/Industrial Design Internship, Taipei, Taiwan
When: HTC Summer Internship, Summer 2015, over a 3 week period
Why: To design a better phone for release into market in 3-5 years
How: During the summer of 2015, I began training for a half marathon that I would run in October later that year. Being unfamiliar to Taipei, and largely unable to communicate in Chinese, it was essential for me to carry my phone on me at all times. It was an uncomfortable experience, holding a bulky smartphone in my hand as I ran through Taipei, so with the brief to design a better phone, I tried to imagine what a better sports phone would be like. I began my exploration looking at fitness trackers and cutting-edge sports apparel with embedded sensors, and ultimately developed the insight that many fitness trackers on the market create a redundancy between the phone and the fitness tracker where the two devices often share several of the same sensors.
Following this insight, and using my own fitness habits as a point of departure, I realized that users need three basic functions while running - music, phone & text, and fitness tracking. These functions do not demand a lot of screen real estate, so I designed a small cellular device that I dubbed the HTC Sports Buddy as a part of a product ecosystem called HTC|Sport. Designed specifically for use while running, this small device can be stored in the pocket of fitness apparel created by HTC's existing corporate partner UnderArmour, so that the buddy's presence whilst running is unobtrusive.
All fitness data can be synced with the user's main cellular device at the conclusion of the run. Bluetooth headphones give users controls for changing their music, making calls, and voice dictation for text messaging. The headphones wirelessly charge using Qi technology. The Qi charging tab tucks into the sports jersey, stabilizing the headphones while running and preventing the headphones from bouncing around in a distracting manner.
For the final deliverables, I prepared a presentation and several 2D renders of the physical product as well as its user interface using Adobe Illustrator. The physical product design draws aesthetically from the Superman logo, both because of the device's placement in the UnderArmour sports jersey, and because of the cultural relevance of superheroes to serious athletes. The colors used in the final product are at once evocative of sports apparel and technology. The user interface was rendered in black and white to minimize strain on battery life, and had to be reconfigured for accessibility in a small screen. The "Talk" interface allows users to quickly call or text both favorite and recently contacted contacts. Because the user can use voice dictation for texting, an on-screen keyboard was deemed unnecessary and not included in the user interface.
The HTC Sports Buddy and HTC|Sport both addressed a single concept, and formed one of several specialty product ecosystems that are performance-optimized for specific contexts - HTC|Lens and HTC|Travel were two other potential product ecosystems that HTC could develop in the future.