AURA by Hu. is a portable speaker with Bluetooth functionality and features a unique audio-based light visualiser. Built for the ever-connected world of smart IoT devices, Aura was born from the question - How might we enrich the portable surround sound experience?
After an extensive research phase consisting of market analysis and patent documentation phone, we began exploring physical forms for the speaker while considering unique interaction methods. A mix of analogue and digital mediums were used to rapidly iterate forms and explore different part details. Initial sketches, 3D models and the final exterior design has been displayed below.
Before continuing with the detailing of the product's internals, our team decided to explore several different CMF routes and their accompanying lighting theme. We needed to pursue this path early on as it would inform the direction of our animation and needed to match our brand's identity. We settled on a unibody enclosure constructed of diecast aluminium as it simplified the product's aesthetics and allowed the technology to recede while in use. Some of our other potential pathways are detailed below.
Designing a smart device for our ever-connected Wi-Fi infrastructure required specific components with native language Ai capabilities. What would a PCB with this type of functionality look like? We started by creating a list of part requirements and collated the components on our concept PCB prioritising dial functionality and aesthetics.
Blender and Substance painter was used to model and texture the assets while the new geometry nodes feature provided a procedural method of distributing components throughout the product. The method employed significantly reduced asset distribution time and provided a parametric approach to easily modifying the design's parameters.
After the required scenes were rendered, I decided to experiment with LUT's in premiere pro. "Look-up table's" are a tool that lets filmmakers, editors and colourists save colour grades as templates and readily toggle their effects on different scenes. To highlight the product's main features (our audiovisual output) and draw attention to the luminous aspects of our product, a Fujifilm LUT was modified for alpha glow exposure and applied.
Hu is a human-focused brand that values honesty and an appreciation for emotion in design. We exemplify our values through our packaging design. A clear encasing was chosen as the primary material as we wanted to highlight the material finish of our product. In addition, X-ray decals of the internals are stencilled across each face to superimpose the internal structure of our device. Below is our design direction mood board as well as the final decals used in AURA's packaging.
Audio baking is a new skill that was explored in this project. Through the use of Blender's Animation editor, an f-curve bake was exported from the selected audio clip and used to drive several animation factors throughout the scene. This brought life to the animated components and ensured audiovisual harmony was achieved.
As AURA powers on, we wanted a magical animation to coincide with the soft glow emitted from the spiral chamber. To contrast the warm glow, a blue partial simulation was created, from which the UI controls emerge. We have created a state-of-the-art lighting and auditory portable device to accentuate the dawn of the 21st centuries transition to mass interconnectivity by providing customers with an iconic and timeless home device – AURA.