For our very first ‘Talk to AUKEY’, we decided to catch up with one of the lead designers for our recent iF award-winning products
We wanted to get the low-down on the design process going into it and how they worked on bringing the product to life.
1) What kind of design team do you lead at AUKEY? What design philosophy do you follow?
“Our team is drawn from a wide range of backgrounds and has rich experience in all areas of product design. We have a strong cross-discipline design approach and are committed to creating a unique and compelling brand. We focus on keeping our designs minimalist, direct, friendly, reliable, practical, and innovative. All AUKEY designs seek to solve practical real-world problems while still retaining unique style and attractive aesthetics.”
2) Regarding the success of the HD-C52 smart car phone mount, what do you think were the characteristics that most impressed the iF Design Award jury?
"I consider this type of product to be part of a wider trend, and being in line with trends is always important when it comes to design. HD-C52 uses an electromagnetic sensor to detect when the device has been placed, which is greatly superior to the infrared sensors that dominate the market. Not only is it technologically superior, but it also allows for a much more attractive design and greater ease of use due to detection being much more accurate and reliable. The product also contains a supercapacitor which allows the mechanism to operate even when the car ignition is switched off. This also helps to simplify and optimize the design in other areas, providing the user with a seamless experience from beginning to end.
This phone mount stands out from others on the market due to its distinctive styling and strong brand identity. It is both boldly minimalist and highly practical, and this blend of style and function is a continuation of AUKEY’s overall design concept."
3) What inspired EV-02’s conical design?
“This EV charger represents the future so we took a lot of inspiration from science-fiction, although ultimately the conical design was rooted in rational practicality. Positioning the charging gun at 45 degrees relative to the base allows for the most natural and ergonomic motion for picking it up.”
4) We noticed that both the ambient light and the cooling fan can both be manually turned off on the LC-Q11 wireless charger. What was the thinking behind this?
“Originally we hadn’t considered these features, but this changed during the design process. First of all, we discovered that the due to the 15W fast-charging function of this product, there was a cooling requirement that hadn’t been present in some of our other wireless chargers. The specific design for this underwent a large number of revisions to achieve the best possible combination of cooling versus noise. We tested the product in a wide variety of scenarios, including in offices, on bedside tables, in restaurants, in hotels, and in coffee shops. During this process we noted a range of preferences regarding lighting and different requirements regarding noise.
To satisfy each of these, we decided to give our users the choice of whether to use the light or the fan, thereby giving the optimal user experience to all. If the fan is turned off the wireless charger automatically switches to a less powerful charging mode, ideal for those charging a device overnight who generally care about noise and are less concerned about achieving the maximum charging speed. In such a scenario, the aviation-grade aluminum body is able to handle the heat produced without the need for additional cooling.”
5) This year the products that won an iF award come from very different product categories. How is the design team able to maintain a consistent AUKEY design style across the entire product range?
“Before deciding on a design style it’s important to first determine who our customers are. AUKEY users are looking for technology that improves their lives but don’t want to make sacrifices in style. The design of the product must be considered alongside its practicality, usability, and reliability, and this often leads to minimalist shapes without unnecessary frills. Where possible we try to use single-element designs that have a technological feel but are still friendly and approachable. The design lines are both practical and dynamic, and we often use metallic gray and matte black.”
6) Among this year’s award-winning products, were there any areas of the design where compromises had to be made, either in terms of aesthetics or functionality? And what areas were able to be fully optimized?
“ HD-C52: Originally we planned to do a version of this product that contained voice support, but this was later shelved. The proposed inclusion of this function meant the pull-down ledge that the phone sits on was made slightly thicker than strictly necessary in order to accommodate this, and both versions of the product were due to share the same mold. In the end there was no version with voice support, but the legacy of this feature lives on in the slightly thicker pull-down ledge. However, this has no real negative effect on the product, and if anything improves the aesthetics of the LED light and gives the product an additional futuristic vibe it might otherwise have lacked.
EV-02: The original design for this product only had a display and didn’t support user input. Later on, we decided to improve the functionality and add a touch-sensitive interface. This perfectly complements the charging gun and the existing lighting, taking the user experience to the next level.
LC-Q11: The surface of this product is mostly matte silicone, but with a glossy silicone border. This makes the design less minimalist that was intended, but is due to practical considerations relating to friction. We tested the original entirely-matte silicone design with a wide range of devices and there was no problem. However, the electrical engineering department discovered that during nighttime testing the iPhone 8 would often stop charging after a period of time. It was eventually determined that the iPhone 8 has a coating of a kind of oil-resistant material on the back, and when placed on matte silicone it has a tendency to gently slide over time, eventually moving away from the charging coil. To solve this, we had to sacrifice the design a little bit and add a ring of glossy silicone around the edge of the product, which helps keep devices such as the iPhone 8 in place.
The most successful aspect of LC-Q11’s design is the cooling fan. Since both the charger and the phone itself produce heat and need to be cooled, we initially considered covering the silicone surface of the charger in small venting holes. However, after producing several prototypes it was decided that this approach produced a busy and complex-looking design and wasn’t aesthetically pleasing enough. It also had the additional drawback of letting dust into the innards of the product. It was proposed that we could try including the venting between the silicone surface and the metal body of the charger, and we performed a number of experiments trialing this concept. These tests were extremely successful and allowed us to use a design that offers high-performance, full structural integrity, and uncompromised aesthetics. Maximizing each of these elements is the key to creating a great product.”
7) Does AUKEY have any plans for any more exciting designs in 2020? Will any of these involve new product categories?
“At CES 2020 AUKEY unveiled our new Omnia series of lightweight GaN chargers which come equipped with OmniaChip power ICs. The step forward we have achieved with OmniaChip is the result of deep collaboration between AUKEY engineers and GaN specialists Navitas.”
So there you have it, quite an interesting interview with our lead designer. It’s fascinating to get a glimpse into the processes that go into making these beautiful products.
Remember, if you’d like to ‘Talk to AUKEY’ then simple create a new thread and we’ll select one to be put to one of the team