conference recording system
peter van meir
this professional recording system is meant for board meetings where the really big issues are discussed. or a conference about the latest findings in biotechnology and brain surgery. but, by the way, even if it is just used for the editorial conference of a school magazine: a recording system has to look professional as a token for esteem to the participants.
conference microphone 9172
when we started to work on a new table microphone for Philips we were inspired to bring the Philips brand promise of »sense & simplicity« to life. we wanted to address all the mess caused by the untidily appearance of the cables. we also wanted to simplify that stress loaded situation, shortly before the conference really starts, when one is preparing the system and at the same time explaining to someone else how to operate it.
that brought us to two main points:
- the system must be easy to set up and easy to use.
- it should look nice and tidy. in short: professional.
no wonder that we began our work for the new conference recording system by dealing with the how-to-put-it-onto-the-table problem. we said: wouldn't it be nice if the table micro could be seen as a part of the table, at least temporarily? maybe a piece that feels like it has been sucked onto the table, a device that can be thrown onto the table with an elegant movement by the person in charge of the setting's preparation. yet which still looks perfect like a built-in system.
that was reason enough to concentrate on simple usage and perfect cable management.
but, as mentioned above, we also focused on a worthwhile appearance too. we added this special grid in the middle to create a touch of high value.
and, as with the dpm 9600, the formal language is about »tool« and being »straightforward«. straightforward in this context means not to overdo/overdesign the object, to use a neutral language, to avoid decoration, to have only formal elements that are actually needed.
electronic parts are very small these days. in the case of the table micro we show that there is in fact a device there, and point out that this is a device of high quality. we present the microphone on its own tiny black stage, a disc.
the size of the disc was carefully chosen so that the cable cross-section and the diameter of the microphone disc are in perfect proportion to each other. but the introduction of the disc was not only induced by the wish to make it look good. the black disc of that size also prevents micromovement if the cables are moved, thus preventing it from looking cheap and amateurish.
the more functions that are integrated into a piece the better: these discs provide perfect cable management, thus helping to keep the area of action tidy. it is possible to stow 2 meters of cable away safely underneath the disc.
furthermore: if there is need for more than one microphone, you can create a microphone chain. if it is not necessary to have them at a distance of 2 meters, the excess length of the cable is hidden underneath the disc so that the cables are always straight. this is one of the key factors for a clean appearance of the recording set - simply professional.
another point that i should mention is the fact that with the new crs 955 nobody will ever need to fiddle with the recording device to temporarily stop the recording for off-record remarks. the digital pocket memo is controlled from a distance with a handy remote control to avoid disturbing the discussion.
needless to say that it is possible to operate the digital pocket memo directly, but normally the dpm will stand in the middle of the table. so the person in charge of recording would have to lean over the table — not only very inconvenient but also stopping the natural flow of the discussion. the remote control is therefore an essential extension of the system. especially useful for making digital marks on the recorded track to easily find particular sections of the discussion later on. we tried several solutions for the remote control.
and we aimed for elegant and very convenient usage, the whole setting-up process should be and look effortless.
well, finally we created something really new when it comes to remote controls, but still generally familiar, so that users will know how to operate it: the remote stick. a cylindrical device that can be used like a ballpoint pen. a simple shape that allows for discreet use, unobtrusive, the sounding board not disturbed by the operator's tasks.
the idea behind this: the device is a silent servant. people are able to concentrate on the discussion.
again, the remote stick also comes with a straightforward visual language, again with a tool-like appearance, again this device visually fits in perfectly with the other Philips dictation equipment.
as the crs was intended to be another member of the dpm family, the same visual cues and the same formal language had to be applied.
we started our design exploration by investigating parts and shapes that refer to the dpm.
in contrast to the dpm 9600, the top-level device, the main target for the crs are journalists. the crs is everything a journalist will need, it is a set of tools for his or her professional life:
there are two of the ground-breaking table microphones that permit 360 degree pickup for comprehensive recording of panel discussions with maximum comfort.
click-on interview microphone
for personal interviews, a special add-on microphone transforms the dpm into the icon of interviews — a handheld microphone. this add-on micro, like the other microphones, improves the performance of the built-in micro and adds stereo recording.
as with the dpm 9600, which was designed to show that the user is a professional user [a lawyer or doctor], the crs is made to be the sign of a professional journalist, hence the iconic appearance. the shape of the add-on microphone resembles the stereotype and is a reference to the widely used microphone type. the dpm becomes the handle of this microphone.
this project was about a line extension with new objects that still stick with the original design philosophy of the dpm: a straightforward style tool for the pros.
and it seamlessly aligns with Philips' brand promise: »sense & simplicity«.
»working together with GP designpartners again proved that it is possible to combine award-winning and innovative product design with high customer acceptance.
the ergonomic design of the conference boundary layer microphone sets new standards in terms of simple usability in the professional dictation and conference recording arena. we at Philips Speech Processing are very much looking forward to continuing this good cooperation in the future — the next project is in the pipeline. stay tuned!«
reviews and awardsiF product design award 2008
- »Philips conference recording system 955 zur aufnahme von konferenzen, tagungen, interviews und besprechungen«
on www.diktiertechnik.de [in german]
- »damit kein wort verlorengeht: wer eine größere konferenz aufzeichnen will, braucht spezielle ausrüstung. Philips ist das thema neu angegangen«
on www.faz.net [frankfurter allgemeine zeitung, 8.4.2008, the review is in german and subject to charges]