Project OCHA - Phone concept

So, I’ve gotten a whole lot of inspiration from this site, and really would like to design a concept phone to possibly use as my senior project for high school (starting early!). I’ve done some initial sketches of what I want it to look like (somewhat, always debatable.):

My thoughts are:

    • Pressure and touch sensitive corners/band (using a barometer and accelerometer) - can be used as a camera shutter release, a release for the kick stand, extra buttons for gaming, squeeze to put phone to sleep
  • Kick stand on bottom half (would split the phone, like the HTC 1 concept)
  • Bottom half includes a touch screen that changes depending on the task at hand (notifications, snooze for alarm mode, etc.) and hide the speaker and microphone in there…
  • Glass that wraps around the top of the phone to the back side (too crazy a concept?)
  • Small screen on the back - easy self portraits and could tell the time when the phone is off
  • Induction charging to get rid of the cables (too much hassle?)

I’m not too sure on the wrap around glass, as glass is very brittle and probably couldn’t be cut out like that… But other than that, what are your thoughts? Changes, suggestions, criticism? Anything is helpful.

Hey Brye,

Saw your other post on the iphone concept. Great to see the enthusiasm at such a young age, are you planning on attending a design college?

I think you have a good handle on PS and rendering techniques. However as you learn more about the field you’ll learn that this is only a small portion of the design process. These skills are very important and I think you last project was great practice for them.

With Ocha, really take a step back and ask yourself why your making the decisions your making. Why are you picking the features that you pick, what problems are you solving and who are you solving them for. It looks like you have a good hold on the technical stuff, although I would like to see better sketches, 3d views, better paper, better presentation ect.

There is nothing wrong with making renders of cool things, but really try to find meaning behind your design, that’s how you will get to the next level.

Yes, I am in fact! My dream is to attend the Art Institure in Pasadena, and study industrial design and some form of graphic art or illustration.

I never really thought to go much deeper into te thought behind it, it was mostly cool ideas and things I’d love to have in my phone. It’ll be a challenge, but I really want yo create something awesome, so of this is what it takes, challenge accepted. I’ll hit the drawig board (more like thinking board in this case) and really try to thunk this one out.

Thanks for your insight and interest! It’s good to hear that sort of praise from people who are well established in this field.

Might want to make sure you know the name of the school first. You mean Art Center, right? It’ll also be impossible for you to do both ID and graphic design or illustration. Each major consumes your life. Maybe a minor or class here or there.

Are you typing on an iPhone? You have like 6 typos.

What M3rik says is all good and gravy, and is absolutely correct, but it will probably take you a while to understand all of what he said. Just try to create a mobile phone from scratch for now. Sketch more (what you’ve shown takes a professional ID person about 30 minutes, if that), and research into the latest innovation, then push that further. The iPhone paradigm is in the past now. Android copied it. WebOS made it even better (but had terrible marketing). Windows Phone 7 is pushing it further. What comes after that? Start sketching screens and interaction flows. What screens do you really need? Do you really need another app-based phone? Or can you design something that is just a pure phone (some people begging for one here: I want a not-so-smart phone.). There’s some space for a very elegantly designed, and featureless phones at the smartphone level (tech wise).

That was a lot to take in as well, but here are the key points:

  1. RESEARCH more. Draw mindmaps (google it) and figure out what opportunities there are to make a new, compelling product.
  2. SKETCH more. Start visualizing things. Don’t shoot down ideas in your head if they seem dumb or implausible. Jot them down, it may lead to another idea (happens to us all the time).
  3. After all that, begin to EXECUTE and make decisions about which ideas you’ll move forward with. Then combine all that into a compelling package with nice presentations.

Good luck. My Project Modai may also serve as some inspiration. You can follow my process from initial concept, to research, to ideation, to execution.

Ahaha. I was actually on my iPad (and now I’m on my iPhone, do excuse my bad spelling), sorry about that! :laughing:

I’ll definitely try and do that, most of the things I think of usually fly out the window in a few minutes. And you were the one with project Modai! Your work on that was incredible! I never would have thought of that kickstand or replaceable internals. Hopefully I can create something of that sort of calibur.

I’ll definitely put a lot of thought and search around for inspiration. I really just want to make a phone that just works as it should. Navigating, multitasking, typing, pretty much everything. I’ll try to study how the hand and mind interacts with the phone and OS. Hopefully I’ll discover something useful. And creating an entirely new operating system completely different from the ones today sounds like an interesting aspect. Lots of thinking to do! :slight_smile:

I’ve made a cleaned up, generalized outline of my ideas. I’m having trouble thinking of more things that would be worth changing about phones today, but I’ve come up with a few to put the humanity back into phones (and people’s view of them).

    • Hard to find charge port; usually one way entry; interrupts user if in use = magnetic cord that attaches ANYWHERE on the side of the phone (easily moveable if it’s in the way) - possibly some form of inductive charging
  • Orient controls to be easily accessible by the thumb’s natural movement pattern (lower 3/4 of the screen, in a diagonal curve)
  • I really wanna push the pressure/touch sensitive band - squeeze to power off, shutter release for camera, etc. - there’s a whole lot of practical and logical uses for this I would think.
  • Speakers and Mic built into the horizontal breaks in the front (see illustration) - top speaker would be multi-purposed into a loud and ear speaker - it also orients the speakers towards the user, instead of away or behind it
  • Electronic kick-stand to prop the phone up for alarms or to alert the user (would also detect if it’s face down)
  • Screen on the back to tell the time when the phone is off, and alert of new notifications (most people just want to know the time when they whip their phones out of their pocket, and they usually pull it out backwards)
  • Bottom-cut off of the front (see illustration) could be used as a multi-purpose touch screen for accessing controls that change with the task
  • A standard login “locker” that the user is able to input all their accounts and automatically pulls info for contacts, updates, etc. From here, an “app” could be created to easily update these accounts all at once (change email/address, etc.) and manage/view/post/update status’ of all those accounts simultaneously

I’m also having trouble envisioning what a user experience would be like, especially one that does away with the billions of pages of apps. To me, the whole ordeal of using a phone should involve no BS. Something simple to the point of not even needing to include a user manual, and something that’s also easy on the eyes. Does anyone have any suggestions or thoughts?

So I’ve started with the lock screen. The most usefull things I can think of having on there without it being too complex or hard to find/distinguish is the time, date, and weather. I quickly made this before I lost the concept, so this layout is still debateable:

You would swipe the bar on the slide to unlock, simple and effective, and could be changed to the opposite side for user preference. I also wanted to think of what the bottom screen would look like, and I figure it would be a great way to display notifications. I thought of adding functionality by tapping on one, then unlocking the top to immediately go to that application. The user could also customize it to put quick links to quickly access them without much thought. (like the camera, SMS, etc.) When unlocked, the user could also customize the icons for quick access to favorites, as well as swipe to to reveal open applications or controls (volume, pause/play, etc.)

This went from a really interesting fun, quick project… to really dry… stop telling me, start showing me.

I’d like to see more iteration on these concepts. It seemed like you just went with whatever you thought of first. Where’re your sketches? Use visuals to show your concepts. Show the different states of a lock screen. Draw a hand (or a touch point). Animate it in Keynote (very easy with Magic Move). Or do whatever it takes to show the concept with visuals.

Grr your both right. Sorry about that, with the move on my mind, I haven’t really been able to put much thought (or effort for that matter) into this. This is something I whipped up illustrating some of my former ideas, it’s far from perfect, I know, but I wanted to put something on the table. I’m still thinking of the UI, so please excuse my lack of one. :slight_smile:

I’ll try to sketch and mind map more, once I’m all settled into my new place. Until then, I’ll leave you with that. :laughing:

Okay, so I’ve got this concept on my mind: a complete “friendship” between phone and user. It’s far from completion, but I’ve made a quick example of it’s practical uses.

Excuse the mistakes and half-rate UI mock-up. I’m not completely sure what I want it to look like, but I know I want the home screen(s) to dynamically change to better suit the situation and location.

Quick render, not the final design mind you, but I thought the stark phone illustrations didn’t do it much justice.

Some clarification: Dual touch screens on the front, and the back has a small screen to display that can be used for a variety of things (the time/notifications when off, self portraits, and the like) I’m not sure on what material would be good for the sides, as they would be subject to a whole lot of pressure, and have the ability to attach to a magnetic charger. Plastic? Metal? Silicone? Thoughts anyone? :slight_smile:

I’ll start sketching up some mock-ups for the UI and post them later when I get the time. I’d love to know thoughts so far, any feedback helps.


You have indicated something in your latest round of design that I am certain is an upcoming wave in mobile devices.

Voice recognition. I was on a recent trip and realized that every question I had, that I was referring to my tablet, could be asked and answered with a voice.

“How far are we from Potato Head beach club?”
“what is the highest rated italian restaurant on”
“what did the worst review of that restaurant say?”
“how far are we from our hotel?”
“What is the chance of rain tomorrow?”

No need to hold a little LCD and effetely poke at it in the bright sunlight. No need to go through advertisements and various UI’s of all of the steps to get to that information. I just want to ask the question. And I just want the answer.

In your design efforts, especially free ranging ones, it is important to think way far ahead. You are the next generation, think of what a phone might work like, think beyond smartphones. As I have said in other posts, I already see the decline of smartphones, it is a long way off, but when Steve Jobs or the next Steve Jobs comes up with something even more direct, more pure, more simple, it is going to be the next big thing. I think that will be voice.

So, if you accept that premise, what would a phone look like that was primarily driven by voice? It still needs to be a status symbol for the early adopters, and if it was a tool in developing countries it might need to be solid and cheap to build. It might have a laser projector built into it for image display when needed, the laser projector might augment your local environment by projecting information on things. It can have a terabyte of local storage or be tied to the cloud, unlimited bandwidth, etc etc. Think of what it could be if it was totally different.

How would you use it? Does it have a breakaway earbud? A speaker the size of current screens? A breakaway camera-bud to stick on your surfboard?

You have got the slick photoshop renders down. Cutting out and layering some cardboard or mattboard and holding it in your hand is going to allow you to get a much more real feeling and evolve your ideas.

Had this thought the other day after looking at one too many phone conepts and reading through the “I want a not so smart smartphone” thread about how others use their phone…

For the most part new smartphones are pretty much the same- they do everything for everyone. They may vary a bit in specs, gestures, apps, ui, etc. But are all for one.

How about rethinking the design and user problem? Surely there must be interesting niches that could be designed for in a more purposeful way than just a new phone with lots of touch and video gadgets and whatever is the latest wireless tech (back in my school days 10 years ago I remember everyone was putting Bluetooth in everything from picture frames to toothbrushes as it was the latest far off tech).

For example, what about a new phone all about security for government, etc?

Personal security for a young woman?

Ultimate travelers phone?

Phone for elderly (been done to death but nothing that interesting aside from the usual giant button dumb phone)?

Sure there are tons others…

It’s too easy to do an ok slab touch phone filled with unicorn specs and features. A good cohesive well researched phone can be solid project like julius’ project modai, but there are lots of other directions to explore as well


Hello again, sorry I haven’t updated in a while, I’m still settling into the new place, and there really isn’t any time to sit down and draw things out (literally, I did this sitting on my bed). I did some sketches today, and love the idea the modular internals of Project Modai. I would like to take it a step further, and further draw upon the amazing possibilities of user upgradeable parts, and customization of the exterior. Not quite done, conceptually, as you will see.

I kind of gave up on the kick stand concept, as it really serves no purpose other than to prop it up for watching movies, which really should be done on something like a tablet, in my opinion.

I also see the demise of the “smart phone”. The way technology is advancing today, the phone aspect will be left in the dust. If it’s really going to come to that, then there should be another category of devices, completely separated from the “phone” category all together. A device that connects everyone, and further simplifies our lives (and also happens to make phone calls). I see a bright future in this area, something along the lines of the Megaman.EXE’s Personal Terminals (PET). Anyone with me?

On modularity: The issue with modularity is that it always increases size and decreases reliability… more things to go wrong. In an product category where every .1 millimeter of thickness counts, and board layouts are optimized for battery and performance efficiency, I think it does not make sense right now.

On your second point, I’m not sure I fully understand it. Is it a smart phone because it makes calls, or is it a smart phone because it is a pocket sized computer that makes calls? In many parts of the world, the mobile smart phone is the only connection to the internet. I think its capabilities will continue to increase, but it will still continue to be a phone as well.

I think you need to decide what you want to get out of this project. Do you want to design a phone, do you want to design an ecosystem, do you want to design a brand? First and foremost, this should be a fun learning experience for you. Don’t feel pressured to have the full solution to everything. Modai was Julius’s final project for college, and it was still missing some things, and that is OK, it was a student project.

Sorry, my explanation was sorta bit half-baked. :laughing:

The way I see it, when most consumers today look for a smartphone, what are they really looking at? The actual phone itself to make calls with and do some mobile computing? Or a “device” to expand their digital life beyond the desktop PC? The way I see it, we aren’t looking for a phone, that’s the last thing people think about when their picking out a smartphone, their looking for a pocket computer. So why not create an entirely new category for these sorts of devices if that’s the case?

I’m not saying the phone is dead, it’ll remain one of the best ways to be connected, it’s just that the actual phone component will be lost sooner or later. I started out thinking about a cool looking phone with unicorn specs, but I’m starting to realize that none of that really matters, so long as the dang thing works as it should.

I get your point that a modular design would make it more prone to failure, but there’s so much potential in it. Unlimited customization of the user end, 3rd party contributions, freedom from the death grip we call a 2 year contract. We’d be able to change the phone to meet our needs. Literally making a phone cutom-fit us, not the other way around.

And besides, who said that it had to be the same old unstable, failure-prone, bulky modular pieces we’ve come to expect. If we can put a man on the moon, nothing’s impossible. I want to create a device that transcends traditional phones today, and create an ecosystem to wrap it all together. (I’m a bit crazy, mind you.)

I’m not to bright on the construction side of things, and know there are limitations in todays technology. But hey, this is just a concept. :smiley:

I got to thinking a bit more about the “ecosystem”. I see something similar to the Windows Phone 7 UI, but with more organization and functionality.

It kind of hit me while I was going along to the “Centers” part (aggregated centers for different forms of apps), hey, why not create workflows to further simplify organization? It’ll work like this:

The user can select apps, customize calendars and tasks, set alarms, and set up an email all within this “workflow”. It’ll be completely separated from the “original” apps, and the user can set it up and customize it for work, projects, and the like. It’ll remember what you were doing within the “workflow”, and let you resume from where you left off, however, when you leave the “workflow”, and use the original apps, all your work wont be included. This will allow people to focus on certain projects, and separate their work life, from their social life. They’d also be able to share workflows with others, which will be especially helpful for people who are working together on a project, and it’d automatically update when a change is made. And, for enterprises, they’d be able to wipe/scramble certain information remotely. That’s quite a mouthful!

If that doesn’t make sense, I don’t blame you. I’m still trying to find the words to explain it. It’s in my head, and I have a sense of how it’ll work out. If you don’t quite get it, you can ask me, and I’ll try to explain it better.

Took some time today to do a mock up of the OS, since my drawings don’t do it any justice. :laughing:

It’s pretty much self explanatory, but I’d be happy to answer any questions. I’ll try to do more to show you guys how the “work-flows” works. Thanks again for the help, guys (and gals), I feel fortunate to have such awesome critique from professionals who are well established in this field. It’s been extremely helpful and inspirational.

Till, next time. :slight_smile:

Just as a quick tip, I would leave the renderings and marketing lingo alone for now. Your process is appearing very jumpy/erratic as you go from rough sketches to psd renderings back to sketches and then presentation spreads. You’re just in the very early stages of this project and I’d really like to see much more material focused on research and exploratory sketches/wireframes. From skimming through this thread I still have no clue what the goal of your design is or what main problem you are trying to solve that isn’t solved in other smartphones already.

It’s also really hard to sell UI that is supposed to work by “magically display[ing] the things you need”. Pick a specific task or purpose that this phone can really help people with and show how well the UI displays the important information for that case. Does it help me better connect with my friends? Is it catered towards faster task-completion? Otherwise, this project just seems like the iOS, Windows Phone 7, and Andriod mashed into one phone.

It also wouldn’t hurt to not write “shit” in your presentation spreads.

What does the name OCHA mean?