Intel Education

Bidding against some of the best-known American consultancies, we won a contract to help Intel formulate their strategy for Education mobile computing, on the then-new UMPC platform.

Working closely with suppliers in Taipei and China, we designed a computer for students that wrapped the internals in an integrated fabric cover, weaving the electronics through the flexible parts.

While it never reached tooling, working prototypes were made that were presented to the global press.

Process

This simple sketch informed some of the early direction work for how to approach the project … how should / could these things be held, interacted with and used? Remember, this was years before the iPad!

Early interaction mode analysis for different tasks.

Evaluating some of the competition, it looked like the packaging was far from elegant.

Playing with ideas for keyboards - should it be a thumb-board, or full keyboard? Should it be mobile, or desk-based?

Sketches of potential forms.

Modelling up the first prototypes, with real weight batteries.

Trying out some different mounting positions for a hinge. This one is good for packaging and reliability, but not so good for the user in this orientation.

Visualisation of different work modes.

Looking at ideas for using easily-found objects for a stand; much better than using a fold-out stand, which would break immediately. Despite this cool feature, we realised what we really needed was a better fabric wrap, and something closer to a full-size keyboard. Back to the drawing board ...

Various ideas for making a folding / standing system work. The dog picture is an important element.

Trying it on for size.

Making increasingly sophisticated models, taking videos in use, sharing with children in the office ... we finally came up with this fabric wrap arrangement that at once protected the unit, could easily be customised and that worked pretty well with the constraints.

Details slowly got worked out, by making models.

Card models became basic weighted CNC models. And we had to hunt down a seamstress in Taipei to begin helping us with the fabrics.

Working with suppliers in Taipei, we made working versions, sourced suppliers for the fabric and the flexible, flat connectors, and finally built a working prototype. Hello World!

Details of the hinge.

Presentation to the world press, at the Intel Developer's forum.