Friday, March 24, 2006

Of the ipod and other great designs

In my middle age I am becoming a lover of great design. I am not an artistic person by nature I know some things I think that have great design and some things that I think have bad design. I don't know why but I know what they are.

Back to the ipod. It is sexy. Ipods are not the best MP3 player available. Those hi fi afficionados are continually talking about the
iRiver having better battery life or the Zen Micro being able to withstand the force of an elephant standing in stilletos on its screen. But I think they are missing the point entirely.

The ipod is the one to own. Pick one up, use the clickwheel, feel it in action. It has changed the way we look at music and taken it to the next level. I say that is good.

When a consumer item becomes a generic term then I think it has truly made its mark Think sellotape, ipod, Dyson. We all know what they are and what they do. One of my most admired designs is the Dyson. Here in the UK we often talk of Dysons as a generic term. It is the only item I can think of whereby a brand name has replaced another one as a new generic term. Hoover is old fashioned here. Get a Dyson.

A few months ago I bought a thing called an ideck. It is essentially an amplifier with speakers for the ipod to plug into. There is something about its design that I rather like. It is simple to use, it works brilliantly and it looks great.

I am lucky to drive a BMW. It's a lovely car and is designed by German geniuses (or is that geniie?). But it has BMW's idrive. I am sure that someone at BMW, presumably an ipod owner. thought it would be a good idea to incorporate some of the principles of the ipod clickwheel and menu system into a car. After all, what could be better than replacing 25 buttons and switches on the dashboard with just one big one and a screen. Nothing actually, as long as it works.

My idrive is great when it works as intended. But, more often than not, it is sluggish. I ask it to do something, it thinks for a while, then thinks a bit longer, finally deciding to go ahead and do what I have told it to do. By then I have inadvertently told it to do something totally different because I have got pissed off with it, tried to cancel everything just got it confused. Then - BAM!
In a third of a nanosecond my idrive has perfectly done everything I have told it to do in the last 3 weeks. So I am driving along with Celine Dion at full volume, whilst checking my oil onscreen, while cold air is being blown at my face when it is minus 5 degrees outside. Meanwhile the satnav is planning my route from London to Copenhagen when I only want to go the local shop to buy some bread.

So Mr BMW idrive designer. I think you have seen the ipod and thought "aha we could use that idea in a car!" Good thinking, now just make it work.....please!

Other than that the car is almost perfect.


savi3 said...

it might work if u tried listening to something other than Celine Dion ;)

savi3 said...

it might work if u tried listening to something other than Celine Dion ;)

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

There's no reason for that! I was only joking about her and I wouldn't want anyone to think I was serious. I feel an urgent need to clear that up.