The phone has ceased to be just a tool for some time. I has become humanized, it has become indispensable and rarely leaves the owner, in constant proximity to the body and intertwined with our lives. It is an anthropological evolution, a progressive phenomenon. Roberto Ruffoni, Design Research Manager at OPPO London Design Center talks about the new normality of the hi-tech world.
For OPPO Roberto Ruffoni works together with a multi-disciplinary team on typological and design research for designing new products and pulls the strings of collaborations with artists, designers and the academic world, including a multi-year collaboration with the Royal College of Art. Naturally he studies users from a global perspective: their values, expectations and relationship with technology. Let’ start from here.
What are the differences in the relationship the western and eastern users have with technology?
Entering the European market means meeting a different audience, the toleration on the invasive presence of technology is different between both places, but the both places are interested in how the ordinary can become extraordinary through it. The phone is no longer a tool, it is an extension of human functions: relationships, culture, entertainment, work are mediated by the use of smartphones. Users expect this phenomenon to be a discreet and non-invasive added value which multiplies possibilities and creativity.
It goes without saying that the pandemic has changed the use made of technology, which has become definitively indispensable. Phenomena such as the dematarialisation of goods or smart working were already underway. They are now a fact and we are working to understand not only how we will settle into a new normal, but also how to turn the ongoing transformation into an occasion for progress.
What are the technological innovations that will change phones in the coming years?
OPPO works on expanding the Ecosystem. The Internet of Things and wearable technologies, more prosaically flexible screens, smart displays, glasses for augmented reality. We push ourselves towards an everyday life that is structured around a humanized technology, that is never an end in itself. It is in OPPO's values to build a fluid and gentle relationship between human beings and technology, for this reason we make the collaboration with artists and designers a foundation element. Our O Relax function, which helps user be mindful of how much they use their phone, is not preceptive or punitive. Its Sounds of the Cities section was developed with Musicity studio as a sound design operation that invites user to focus through the experience of sounds from different parts of the world. Design for the senses creates the fusion between the human and the technological, such as in the color test and analysis function that adapts the billion colors displayed by Find X3 Pro’s billion color display to the real perception of the individual.
A technology that manages to take into account human variability?
Accessibility should not concern just disability, but the encounter with uniqueness. We are looking for a layered design, in which technological performance dialogues with the senses, with the body and with the environment. The installation by Kengo Kuma that we will bring to the next Milan Design Week resonates with OPPO's philosophy. Nature and technology overlap to multiply the experience through the weaving of materials and functions, prioritizing lightness, transparency and the dialogue with the space.
Is it a European way to technology?
Europe is a design trend setter. The humanism on which our culture is based guides research and design as an ideal mediator. What we do here goes back to Asia, and vice versa. Our research is about a global value: Technology as an Art Form.