WhiteBoard Critique of the "Beats
Beats by Dre has taken the headphone market by storm. Celebrities, the Olympic team, and the average Joe on the bus, can be caught wearing a set of their stylish headphones. However, Beats makes more than just headphones. The Beats Pill is the extension of the head phone collection that brings the rest of the room in on the music experience.
A breakdown of all the parts.
The three buttons on the round face are connected to two separate circuit boards that are fastened to a molded part.
The prominent Beats button in the front is backlit, illuminating the "b" icon with four small LEDs mounted to the circuit board.
Because of the rounded shape, it was necessary to extend the power button with a molded cruciform that also holds the spring to reach the tact switch on the circuit board. There are two 2100mAh lithium batteries that are split across the housing to provide balance and power to the product. The Pill provides about 6 hours of great sounding music anywhere.
The Micro USB has an additional perpendicular mounted circuit board. It has LEDs that are channeled through a molded acrylic part; also known as light piping. This is a clever way to show it is charging by illuminating the USB port when a cable is plugged into it.
The Pill is not the first compact speaker in the world of portable stereos. There have been many before it that were too small, under powered, or unappealing. The unique style and shape of the Pill helps separate it from the crowd. It also includes a quality carrying case for protection and portability that maintains the same design aesthetic of the Pill. Having four speakers provides quality sound for it's size.
The pill shape causes many constraints for cost of assembly and parts. This results in a higher cost for aesthetics, functionality and performance. The smaller space for the speakers limits the quality of bass. In order to create bass you need to move lots of air quickly and forcefully. The Pill would have to be bigger or a different shape to improve the bass quality.
In WhiteBoard's world of Form Follows Reality™, this is a good example of the need for a unique and relevant shape trumping cost of goods and performance (bass).
Design for Manufacturing:
All in all, it is a clever design for manufacturing in a unique form factor. The Pill is a good example of strong collaboration between design and engineering.
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