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Designing the Perfect Premium Smart TV (3) Stick To the Plan and Do It Right
“Is there a plating bath large enough to soak the entire 75-inch frame?”
“What if we anodize for post-processing (applying oxide paint to an aluminum surface) instead of using a plating tank?”
As the design direction became clearer, the development team got busier. Within the overall production process, which included metal polishing (for high glossiness), immersion in plating tanks, and application of the ‘Rose Gold’ color, the development team was most concerned about the plating process.
Unlike competitor products that created individual pieces of the frame and connected it after processing, the ES9000 had to be processed as a single frame from the production phase. But there was no plating bath customized for a TV 1.7m tall and 1m wide. The development team first attempted to enhance glossiness through anodizing instead of using a plating bath. Anodizing, the most commonly used post-processing technology, was a cost-reducing option since the initial yield was appropriate and polishing could be left out. Anodizing was ruled out in a development meeting, however, as the resulting glossiness did not fully support the ‘Rose Gold’ color.
They had to start from square one.
The development team adopted a new production line automating everything from polishing. The reasoning was that it was difficult to ensure quality control through the conventional method of manually smoothing out rough edges and creating a glossy finish. New plating tanks were created. Plating tanks used for automobiles and oil tankers could have been used for the ES9000, but most of the relevant factories were located in the southern part of the country, making it difficult to transport the products. New plating tanks measuring 120cm tall, 45cm wide and 200cm long were created, but the team still could not reach the level of anticipated yield during initial production. The slowdown was due to the size of the ES9000, which required workers to manually dip the 75-inch frame by the corners in and out of the plating tank.
Many were concerned about the production yield, which remained around 60 percent. However, company executives instructed employees to remain focused on perfecting and creating the product as originally planned, rather than focusing on increasing the yield. The ES9000 slowly began to take shape, fueled by the collective desire to attain premium perfection. Samsung Electronics is currently building an automated plating bath line next to the polishing production line in order to maintain the highest quality, regardless of size or technology.
Human-Centered Design Begins with Customer Research
The Samsung TV design goes beyond technology and the balance of reason and emotion. It creates an emotional connection between the product and customer, and has evolved toward creating greater human-centered value. Changes in Samsung’s TV design identity have been setting the overall direction for Samsung TVs since 1996. The identity, which has served as ‘coordinates’ for designers and developers, was created with a focus on adopting advanced technology. Since then the focus has shifted to a sense of warmth and human-centeredness.
For instance, the Bordeaux TV (created in 2006) and the Touch Of Color (TOC, created in 2008) used technology to reflect the beauty of a crystal wine glass and sunset. By researching and considering users needs, Samsung was able to develop innovative Smart TV designs that added new value to consumers who will continue to use TVs. This is different from the past, when consideration was made only from the perspective of new consumers.
Starting from the initial design phase, colleagues from marketing, design and development came together to develop the ES9000. They engaged in in-depth consumer research with particular focus on potential ES9000 customers. Research results indicated that potential customers purchased unique products and were interested in culture, leisure and art. The team understood that there needed to be careful consideration when creating a human-centered design for this customer segment. For example, it was likely that the customer segment would not be interested in common electronic products such as TVs.
The team brainstormed about how to make the ES9000 suitable for the consumption patterns and lifestyles of these potential customers. In the end, they merged the design and technology elements of the product, transforming the TV into a piece of work that beautifully blended into its surrounding—whose existence itself reflected the customer’s class.