If this is real, it is a pretty big surprise. The minimal Teenage Engineering language is smart. Would have seemed impossible a year ago, seems almost possible today.
It’s the right look - with the teenage engineering language and the novel physical UI elements there’s no need to watch a demo, it tells you what to expect out of it.
My my…how solids CAD has really dumbed down and cheapened surface development over the decades.
From early 2000s for comparison.
On the contrary, this is the iconic design of the early 2000s and a clear predecessor of TE design. Smart reduction of surfaces and a complete departure from the chromed 90’s rugged boombox aesthetic. The CAD tools have not changed, but the renders are certainly faster.
I’m not a fan of ‘hardware novelty for novelty’s sake’ and the probable lack of any repair loop (TE doesn’t have a track record of exceptional quality). On the other hand, its nice for tech to have come off the soapbox of “industrial design is the box that the technology comes in”.
I disagree. This very post was my first time seeing this, and reading your comment and staring at the photo before watching any of the videos, kept me asking “wth am I even looking at?”
Now that I know a bit more, I still have some reservations. The UI def tells me what to expect: annoyance and mechanical failure.
Push-to-talk-button: is it the one on the right side? OK I can access it with the thumb and switch the thumb position to the scroll wheel when needed - IF i’m holding with the right hand. If using the left hand the grip becomes very awkward.
Camera: is it flippable? How? Why? Is it really worth introducing a mechanical element when every single smartphone has both front and backfacing cameras?
What am I even supposed to do with it, put it in my pocket? Why isn’t this simply an app? There’s nothing here that calls for a stand-alone device and doesnt solve a single problem, not even better UI. What am I missing?
On the design language:
This is not the typical Solid-3D-form - those have same sized C1 fillets on all edges, and resemble a 3D object. This is what I attribute to Adobe Illustrator design, possibly designed by UI designers or even more likely given TEs engineering heritage - web designers. This has been an enduring trend in swedish tech for a while that started with the success of Urban Ears - 2D objects (mostly circles and squircles) with flat sides and sharp edges on the Z-axis.
Do you even remember the all the 3D-CAD surfacing tutorials for the back of the iPhone? To the untrained eye it may seem like a rounded box, but most of us know the hardships of modelling a C2 bar of soap. The R1 is not it. I doubt it even has the C2 corner fillets. And I doubt it was an intentional “surface development” from it’s predecessors…
I know at least a few years back TE didn’t have designers, they are just engineers. They even said something like they don’t care about the design, they just do engineering and make it fun. So if the R1 is the pinnacle of industrial design right now, midjourney is doing concepts, chatgpt research, design thinking is dead… whats left for us? signing up for online MBA course
Agreed, the possible reasoning is to include one higher quality camera and save costs. Why the need for selfie direction? Not sure, and the mechanical rotation with frame blocking seems suspect.
The conclusion I came to is that there is no way that an app that controls key presses and input entry into other apps would ever be allowed into an Apple or Android ecosystem. How this will be accomplished I don’t know, but if they had the Large Action Model (LAMB) idea first, a separate piece of hardware seems required.
Pair this with the elimination of ID at Apple and you can see how ‘engineers with graphic design sensibilities’ have staked their claim in this space, and jettisoned any kind of form development sensibility in lieu of quick primitive solids modeling.
The TE guys are really going hard at GenAlpha with their designs; hoping for a long and profitable future of loyalty. The Japanese model of creating a future market by targeting young aesthetic sensibilities is strong in this line of products. You can see it here with the inclusion of very 8-bit (i.e. minecraft) video vizualizer features into their PMP experiences.
It’s not ID because it’s primitive solids? Does everything need a crown on it with random perks and ovals like it’s 1995?
Oh it is. I love the aesthetic as well. But it’s not id if it wasnt intentional and backed by some sort of strategy. Who knows, maybe a whole agency went through 100s of mockups and iterations. I just know that TE by the time they started receiving design praise - didn’t have any designers, and were quite smug about it. Or maybe it was fake news - this company is enshrouded in a weird mythical cloud.
I kept the packaging for a long time from the Pocket Operators, beautifully done. The stripped POs make me smile every time I use them. The OP-1 not designed?? I think it is a posture to claim no designers, there is a sophisticated design, just design naive engineers? That seems a stretch.
Maybe, I like to think that playing with a Zune for a few months, as well as a PC jailbroken iPod made my mind a little more elastic.
Will see, my R1 order will hopefully arrive around Easter, I look forward to playing with it. Agents are the way. Already use chatGPT on my phone, hoping for something newer. Consumption.
God bless America.
But honestly, how this isn’t an app on my phone escapes me.
I love the TE design ethos. It’s a nice balance of new and retro, fun and toy like but also no nonsense minimal and serious.
It’s a fresh approach to tech that feels new compared to overly technical with silver bezels, or fake casual with wood or juvenile and playful with random holes and rubber over molds.
I do t really get the product from a real life perspective and it’s hard to see the scale of it or real use case but I think the physicality of it is meant to be a test bed for what could be a future app and a simplification of the path to market. No need to worry about APIs, app stores, random hardware, etc.
OK I had to go do some digging.
But before releasing the device, the team had never developed a product before. Most of Teenage Engineer’s founders are self-taught engineers who started off in the media world. Kouthoofd directed TV ads. Another founder, David Mollerstedt, headed up the audio team at EA’s DICE studio, which produced the Battlefield and Mirror’s Edge games. What they all had in common was an interest in sound and a nostalgia for physical interfaces
However, the actual source for that reads this:
The company has a pedigree in sound engineering, including the legendary drum maker Elektron, but also in marketing, advertising, industrial and product design.
The founder and CEO, Jesper Kouthoofd, has a background in advertising and has created some of Sweden’s most iconic TV-ads that were essentially selling common goods through brilliant made-up brand storys. So I have a hard time believing any official markerting message from TE, and I suppose I could be wrong that they didn’t have an actual designer
Are we really saying you need a degreed in ID to be a designer?