|The Fifth Annual Interactive
PROJECT BAR-B-Q 2000
Group Report: Appliantology
|Participants: A.K.A. "The Pasty White Guys"||Brad Barmore; Intel|
|David Battino; Revolution magazine||Charles Boswell; AMD|
|Scott Kasin; Sigmatel||Stephen Handley; Texas Instruments|
|Facilitator: Van Webster; Webster Communications|
Group Goal: To identify problems and offer approaches for the development of computer audio appliances.
Appliances are task-specific devices that may or may not have subordinate utilities. Consumers are attracted to appliances because they are simple, reliable and durable.
In audio, consumers have listening habits that fall into predictable patterns. The following table indicates the most important cross points where listening style and location intersect.
Principles of Appliantology
There are five key features of successful media as described by Richard Ducy, V.P. NAB:
We applied these models to computer-based audio appliances to see where products could be developed or improved.
The consumer must perceive the device to be a good value. Systems that are too expensive, either as hardware or software, will yield to cheaper schemes. The "quality at any price" market is very small. Conversely, even inexpensive products will not be perceived as economical if they are not sufficiently durable and stylish.
"Advertising, word of mouth and personal experience create perceived value." -VW
Image - Consumer Perception:
2. Structured Media systems must offer the familiarity of conventions.
Consumers must know what to expect. Structure brings order to chaos. It creates comfort by meeting the consumer's expectations. For example, the button with the right-pointing green triangle always means Play.
"Structure helps connect the user with the content." -VW
Controls and access should be intuitive.
Asset management/Library management creates order out of chaos.
Remote service backup is a way to protect data and hard disk contents. For music libraries, only the lists of titles need to be saved; the songs can be downloaded from a central library.
Organizing Chaos - Shift in user model. As the market for music products evolves, a greater number of young consumers will be computer savvy, creating a new model of operator expectations.
3. Easy to Use
Controls and feature sets must be easy to use and understand.
"Consumers choose convenience over quality every time." -VW
Consumers don't go into a record store and buy music based on whether it was recorded on a Neve or an SSL console. They buy music for the song and the artist. MP3 for example, is a clearly inferior quality music format. Consumers have adopted MP3 as a carrier because it is convenient to download and the content is free (for now).
Computing in a music appliance should be hidden:
Ergonomics of audio appliances:
Consumers must be motivated by the medium. The form and content work together to make an irresistible package.
"The Package must have a benefit the consumer just can't pass up." -VW
Feature Set for Audio Appliances:
The product must add value to something the consumer already owns. No new product exists in a vacuum. New purchases need to fit in with the consumer's existing system. For example, a CD player adds value to a component Stereo System. A new CD ads valued to the CD player.
"At what point does the appeal of the improvement overwhelm the obstacle to change?" -VW
Content Delivery to the device:
The Audio appliance is a revolutionary thing - it doesn't look like a PC.
Products that use computer music can be packaged to meet the range of consumer applications.
It was our opinion that the majority of listening is by consumers in a background context where the listening is secondary to other activities. In consumer foreground listening, the consumer is engaged actively in the audio program, often in concert with visual entertainment (e.g., games, TV, and movies).
Professional listeners are persons actively engaged in the creation and reproduction of audio programs. They include musicians, producers, engineers, sound designers and developers. By the nature of their work, they are active, foreground listeners.
The following grid compares listening applications with listening environments to profile system needs.
This topic has been a resonant theme through multiple BBQ events. It reflects a continuing interest among members of the BBQ group to simplify and universalize the computer audio experience for the widest range of listeners. As the BBQ group is a voice for change within the computer audio community, we recommend that:
Respectfully submitted, 10/22/00 Brad Barmore Stephen Handley Scott Kasin David Battino Charles Boswell Van Webster (Facilitator)
select a section: 1. Introduction
2. Speakers 3.
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