RCA began selling the Gem line of MP3 players, including the Opal. Creative introduced its Zen Stone. And today Acer brings us the Gemstone. Earthly naming conventions are nothing new, from the PEBL to the i-Stones, gadget makers have long tried to portray their wares as organic, natural forms instead of the mercury laden, toxic ones the really are. But if consumer electronics companies really want to mimic nature...
then they should heed these words from industrial designer and sci-fi gadget imagineer Branko Lukic, from his upcoming book nonobject:
Each natural "product" is a unique specimen; nothing else compares to one, after another, after another. Imagine if the manufacture of consumer electronics afforded such diversity! Imagine if consumers had the pick of an endless array of devices, each one its own distinct shape, size and color while keeping the internal components the same... The state of things now: sameness sits on assembly lines; sameness lives on shelves; sameness is in hands of consumers. Need it be this way - where color is the only distinguishing feature? Why not tackle design in more interesting ways? Rather than considering a product as one of many, diversify the multiple existing molds and consider product a little more freely. Need each be a clone of the other? Why not envision production methodology anew, as a result of more organic processes? Just imagine: a near future where we still make a single product in large volumes, but we do so more randomly, intuitively, eclectically. This way, with advanced manufacturing techniques, consumers are offered more choice within a single product category.
Unless, of course, we are all electric sheep who want to own the exact same thing.
nonobject Design Fiction No 3: Pebble [Book Preview]