We gave our first true glimpse into the heart of our R&D engine at Lenovo Tech World this past year by sharing two high-tech, innovative concept products: Smart Cast (a smartphone with built-in laser projector) and Magic View (a dual-screen smartwatch).
So why do we develop concept products? The truth is while some may have enough viability, value and consumer interest to make it to market, the reason we create these concepts is to explore – to push the limits of technology design and engineering. This experimentation leads us to really important insights.
Wearables, for example, are a booming market segment, but their form factor limits their size to a certain amount of space on your wrist. As a result, customers complain about how functional and readable the displays are. Ahead of Tech World 2015, we took that feedback and redesigned a wearable device. Ours’ featured dual-view with a zoom-effect to remove the limitations from the physical dimensions of the main screen. This ultimately allows users to see a virtual display more than 20 times larger than the watch face display. While we know this concept in its current form isn’t the most usable, it helps us start the conversation about what type of solution will be most viable.
While Tech World showcased our approach to R&D, we’ve spent considerable time and energy developing concept products for many years. Before Magic View and SmartCast we showed our idea for the Pocket Yoga (a much smaller, pocket-sized version of our first-ever convertible product, the YOGA) and the IdeaPad U1 (a hybrid laptop with dual operating systems and a detachable screen). While we never brought these devices to market, we took what we learned from engineering different keyboard sizes, detachable screens and types of hinges to instead help inform our extremely popular YOGA convertible line.
Lenovo Pocket Yoga
Since we highlighted our concepts at Tech World, many people have asked me if we’ll see any of them available for purchase. The answer is…maybe, someday. We’re extremely likely, however, to leverage the insights and the best parts of each design and see how it can be applied to future products.
You might ask: “is it worth it?” Simply put, yes. Another benefit to developing concept products involves engaging with and testing a design in the field. With just an idea and a few sketches, you can only get so much useful feedback from a focus group. However, having a physical device to touch, interact with and demo generates an entirely different type of feedback and data. That’s important information we can analyze and integrate in the future.
At the end of the day, I believe creating concept products keeps Lenovo ahead of the innovation curve, and to that end we’re doubling down on R&D. This concepting process allows us to be creative and experiment with new ways of doing things; with feedback from customers, partners and media and leveraging events like Tech World, we can further refine the technology and better anticipate the needs of tomorrow’s consumers.
So you may wonder whether we’re showing concepts at Tech World this June? Yes, absolutely. While I can’t tell you what they are – you’ll have to watch the livestream at www.YouTube.com/lenovo to find out – I can give you a few hints. They use new types of material to change the way you may think of a PC-type device: smartphone, tablet, laptop or otherwise, taking flexibility to a new level. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @Lenovo for updates about Tech World.