A discussion with Motorola Solutions Designers LanTing Garra and Sanne Martens about the design of the SL300 MOTOTRBO two-way radio
Innovation is a tricky balance. You need to understand your customers’ needs if you’re to give them something useful – but you need to add your own creativity too. Henry Ford once (allegedly) said of his Model T: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
When the Motorola Innovation Design team set out to create the SL300, they were eager to fill the customer need for a basic, easy-to-use, low-cost radio. In fact, they went to the next level and took the opportunity to do something special. LanTing Garra and Sanne Martens were part of the SL300 development, and recently answered a few questions about their design process and approach.
Q: What was your first step in the design process?
LanTing: We started by working with our customers. We watched female teachers using older two-way radios in the US. We noticed that the radio was in their hand for most of the time, so clearly the new design had to feel good: slim and light, with rounded corners and a non-slip texture.
Sanne: Then we saw how they used a belt clip – and it certainly wasn’t to clip the radio to their belts since most of them didn’t wear a belt! They attached it to their clipboard; they wedged it onto their fingers, they even clipped it to their bra strap. So we decided to provide better carry solutions. We settled on a neat elastic hand strap and a flexible wrist-strap / lanyard. The PMLN 7076 elastic hand strap was created to accommodate teachers’ needs.
Q: It was all about making the basics better. How did you apply this approach when designing the display?
LanTing: It started when we spoke to property management users in China, and asked them why they didn’t buy radios with a display. They told us that however tough we make it, they always feel a display is too fragile. We needed to do something different – so we created the Active View display: a matrix of LEDs behind the radio’s rugged front panel. It’s tough, but it’s also power efficient.
Sanne: And even though the radio only has a 19x5 matrix, the messages scroll across the display to give the impression that you’re looking at a much bigger area.
Q: Customers were asking for an easy-to-use product as well, how did you fulfill that need?
Sanne: The ergonomics and intuitive design are important. A typical radio is designed with the channel and volume controls beside each other at the top, but we decided to move the volume control to the side of the radio: where you’d find it on a typical smartphone. Similarly, we changed the traditional channel selector to a rocker switch. When you pull it forward to go up through the channels, you’ll see the display scroll down; when you push it back, the screen scrolls up, which aligns with the interaction.
LanTing: Of course performance needs to be good. A slim and lightweight radio is useless if it has poor battery life, terrible range or tinny audio performance. We started by reducing the transmitter power to extend the battery life. To echo the motto of making the basics better, a lot of hard work from Engineering teams has been put into maximizing battery life, getting the best audio performance in its class, and achieving the incredible extended range this radio can deliver with special patent-pending antenna technology.
Thanks to LanTing and Sanne for spending some time to talk about their development of the SL300. Soon we’ll chat with some customers about their experience with the SL300, so stay tuned to Next Generation Communication by subscribing now.
Ben Ansell is Global Marketing, MOTOTRBO for Motorola Solutions, Inc.
LanTing Garra is Director of Innovation Design, Director in the Chief Technology Office at Motorola Solutions
Sanne Martens is Senior User Experience Designer, Innovation Design in the Chief Technology Office at Motorola Solutions.
Learn more about the design process of the SL300 in this video.
Did you know that unplanned downtime in manufacturing facility can slash profits by up to 40 percent while undermining customer confidence? With the industry on the rise, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of upcoming trends and prepare for 2015. In fact, according to MAPI Foundation, the industry is expected to grow 3-4% year over year for the next three years. It is even more critical now to streamline operations by improving communications and integrating data into your enterprise wide collaboration.
I’m excited to discuss these topics with you at this year’s premier industry event Rockwell Automation Fair on November 19-20 in Anaheim, CA and to engage in conversations around the economic benefits of a truly Connected Enterprise through numerous industry forums, user group meetings, hands-on labs, technical sessions and demonstrations. Check out the pre-show program for more information about these opportunities.
As the industry grows, one trend that will be discussed at the show will be the importance of boosting production and reducing unplanned downtime. This can be accomplished without necessarily building a completely new infrastructure. SeQent, a Motorola Solutions Application Provider, will be in booth #432 showcasing their proactive automated messaging system demo via Rockwell Automation software and Motorola MOTOTRBO™ digital two-way radios that allows you to do just that.
Overall, SeQent provides a bridge between hardware and software based on alarms and events that occur within plant floor equipment and applications. Then, the application sends information to users’ end devices so they can make real-time decisions thereby increasing productivity, quality and profitability. In turn, allowing you to reduce the number of devices your staff carries on their belts and streamline communications to decrease unplanned downtime and stay competitive. See how SeQent helps plant messaging and communications in the following video.
SeQent provides manufacturing solutions to positively impact Productivity, Quality, and the Bottom Line.
Learn more about the show on the Rockwell Automation Fair website and on Twitter by following @AutomationFair and @MotoSolutions & @SeQent and by using #autofair throughout the show. Download the event’s mobile app to join the conversation and stay connected with fellow attendees, even if you’re not able to make it to Anaheim for the fair.
Aleksandra Ikanowicz is Marketing Manager, Manufacturing at Motorola Solutions
Learn more about SeQent
Stay up to date with the latest in manufacturing communications technology
Read Motorola’s 2014 Nationwide survey of U.S. Manufacturers “Top Trends in Plant Communications”