Microsoft tasked MA Industrial Design students to conceptualise ideas which demonstrated new thinking in computer interaction – challenging each to devise possible alternatives to the mouse and keyboard or, alternatively, visualise technologies that could be used in the future, based on emerging tech trends of today. The designs were showcased in an exhibition at CSM where Victor Johansson was named Microsoft Young Designer of the Year.
Scott Smith, Principle Designer at the Microsoft User Experience and Industrial Design department which specialises in the field of interaction and input, commented: “At Microsoft, we invest a lot of time and resources on research which examines how users are changing their interactions with technology, whether its input devices, user interfaces, touch, voice or gestures. Central Saint Martins provides a great platform to bring in fresh insights and ideas from a group of 25 students who hail from a diverse mix of backgrounds and nationalities.”
Victor’s winning design was the Keyflex, “an evolution of the humble keyboard.”
Rather than just pressing keys, the user bends, squeezes, twists and flexes the device to control it. It can also be bent upwards and downwards to control the volume. By pressing the ‘modifier key’ at the same time, the action of bending gets assigned to a different function (e.g. fast forwarding a movie). The device can also be twisted to pause or escape. When using social media, the user can squeeze either the right or left side to ‘share’ or ‘like’.
Scott Smith, Principal User Experience Designer with the Microsoft Hardware User Experience Team commented:
It has been a fascinating experience to see students who hail from a diverse mix of backgrounds and nationalities developing fresh insights into the world of man/machine interaction. I was particularly impressed with Victor Johansson’s design as he successfully met the overall goal of the programme and really showcased a possible future trend which addressed a clear consumer need – a quality that is at the forefront of all Microsoft design thinking.