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“Thinking about design can be hard, but not thinking about design can be disastrous”

Ralph Caplan

 
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Designing a user friendly, mass producible 360 photo camera

Building an intuitive digital user experience to take and view 360 images

COMING SOON // Redesigning and prototyping a bicycle trailer for the Kenyan market

 
 
 

Design of a user friendly, mass producible 360 photo camera

Panono is a Berlin based start-up that developed and manufactures a 360 photo camera which takes fully spherical images with an image quality of 108MP. I was the first team member to join Panono’s founding team and during the first phase of our cooperation – which resulted in my master thesis for the master Integrated Product Design – I developed the concept design for the Panono camera.

 
From functional prototype to concept design

From functional prototype to concept design

 

main CHALLENGES

The aim of the project was to translate the functional prototype created by Jonas Pfeil (founder and CEO of Panono) into a mass producible version of the camera. One of the main challenges during the project was finding a product layout which found a good balance between producibility on the one hand and ease of use on the other. The working principle of the prototype relied on 36 individual cameras, spread over the surface of the sphere and each with a unique viewing angle, which together could capture a full spherical 360 image. The different viewing angles of the cameras complicated production – as they would result in costly undercuts – and the 36 cameras spread over the camera’s surface left little room for buttons and other controls. To add to these issues, user research showed that the camera’s diameter would have to be halved in order to be easier to transport and use.

 
Panono’s original prototype with a diameter of 19cm and and a weight of 750g had to be reduced in size.

Panono’s original prototype with a diameter of 19cm and and a weight of 750g had to be reduced in size.

 

Solutions

The concept I developed divides the sphere into three equal product parts which each accommodate a third of the 36 cameras. Dividing the product into three parts – instead of into two halves as was chosen for in the original prototype – meant it was easier for assembly workers to place the cameras into the small sphere. It also lowered the amount of undercuts compared to a half spherical part which reduced cost of the injection moulds.

 
The choice between sphere halves or sphere thirds affects the amount of undercuts in the part.

The choice between sphere halves or sphere thirds affects the amount of undercuts in the part.

The design concept consists of three equal camera shells which surround the product’s battery and PCB’s.

The design concept consists of three equal camera shells which surround the product’s battery and PCB’s.

The button and other controls are placed on the two ‘poles’ of the product.

The button and other controls are placed on the two ‘poles’ of the product.

 

To generate a versatile range of solutions that made the product easier to use I organised several ideation sessions with users and the team. I looked at the different ways in which the camera could be used and analysed how that would affected the placement of buttons and other electronics. As there was little space available on the sphere the amount of buttons and other controls had to be reduced to a minimum. In the final design the button and USB port are placed on opposite ‘poles’ of the sphere. The three green stripes which help connect the different product parts are slightly tapered which visually give the camera a top and bottom side.

 
I organised several co-creation sessions with users and the team

I organised several co-creation sessions with users and the team

 
 
 

Want to know more?

Take a look at the patent me and team published

 
 
 

Building an intuitive user experience on the app and website to take and view 360 images

Panono is a Berlin based start-up that developed and manufactures a 360 photo camera which takes fully spherical images with an image quality of 108MP. Alongside the hardware Panono develops an app that can be used to take and process images; stitching software to create seamless images; and a website to view and organize the images. As Panono’s Head of Design I collaborated with a freelance UX and graphic designer and the in house developers to create an intuitive user experience on Panono’s app and website.

 
From taking an image to viewing the processed results

From taking an image to viewing the processed results

 

Complex workflow

The Panono camera consists of 36 individual camera modules which all take an image simultaneously. These 36 images need to be processed and stitched together in the cloud before the user can view a finished 360 picture on their account. As the camera itself does not have a screen and cannot connect to the internet, a mobile phone is used to select and send images to the cloud. Therefore, after pressing the button on the camera the user still has to take a few steps until their 360 images is ready. The workflow was not only complicated from a user perspective but also technically it was tricky to figure out which parts of the process would be dealt with by either the backend, app and/or firmware on the camera.

 
Tool used during workshop to visualise the different stages and modes of connection within the system.

Tool used during workshop to visualise the different stages and modes of connection within the system.

 

workshopS and wireframes

Due to the complexity of Panono’s workflow and the fact that several departments had to be involved in the development process, the only way to develop a well-functioning workflow was to take a collaborative approach. Early on in the process I organized a two day workshop meant to get everyone on the same page and define the basic structure of the product system. The workshop was attended by the developers, management and the UX team and consisted of four main parts:

Risks – Brainstorm to uncover all risks that should be dealt with in the system.

Criteria – Developing the criteria the system would have to meet.

Options – Generating all possible options for each step in the process (for instance: how to connect camera to the mobile phone).

Decisions – Measuring options against the requirements to find the best match

 
Criteria

Criteria

Options

Options

Decisions

Decisions

 

The workshop resulted in a clear and well thought through workflow which formed the starting point for the further detailing of the different system parts. I collaborated with a freelance UX designer on the development of wireframes of the app and website. These were developed in close collaboration with Panono’s developers, to find a good balance between user needs and technical feasibility. At several points in the process we created paper prototypes to quickly and cheaply test different iterations of the products. One of the main challenges throughout the development was to strike a good balance between implementing a large range of functionalities but keeping the products as simple as possible at the same time. In several stages we cut down features in order to simplify the product and ensure faster release.

Want to know more?

Read more about the implementation phase of the Panono app and website