Microsoft Surface Headphones | Behind the Design: Surface Headphones

Microsoft Surface Headphones | Behind the Design: Surface Headphones


– [Daniel] The challenge
was to make something that is super versatile, but makes you also productive. And it needs to be a perfect companion for your actual workspace. – [Gopal] How are we
gonna do something new that Microsoft hasn’t done before? – How do I design
something the I would love, so beautiful that you
don’t even think about it, you just want it? – [Sara] What is the future
of the human experience? What are the experiences you
would wanna hear in audio? – [Assistant] Hi, there. – What’s on my calendar today? Do I find an assistant valuable? – [Tsitsi] Those are
all the things we sort of have to take into account and even start understanding
for ourselves as designers. – [Gopal] How are we gonna be different? Why Microsoft? How are we gonna stand
apart from everybody else? (clacks) – You know, where do you, where do you start? – Why human science in
a technology company? So we say, “Well who
is the technology for?” It’s for the human. I go as Gopal Gopal so
that nobody forgets me. So it’s in my name twice, different story. – My name is Daniel Dhondt. I’m industrial designer
for the Surface Headphones. Now that there’s so many devices and experiences asking for our attention– – How do you create a
sense of personal space within an open office environment? We kind of believed and
went with this notion that when you do have your headphones, you can actually escape
into another world. (laughing) – We wanted not to do
just a music headset. We wanted to build a productivity headset. – This product would really help you by canceling out the noise around you or amplifying the noise around you if people were to talk to you. So we thought this was the perfect kind of work companion device. – We said, “Why don’t we give the human, “the actual user of the headphones, “to control how much noise
they want to eliminate “and how plugged they want
to be into the environment?” We came up with the idea of the dial. I rotate the dial, I can increase the amount of cancellation, rotate it one other way, I can begin to hear everything around me. Brita, can you change the noise
to aircraft noise, please? And then make it louder too, so I can play with my noise
cancellation headphones. (aircraft engine roaring) (gentle music) – [Sara] We try to make sure the experiences feel very
natural and intuitive. – We got inspired by hifi stereo sets where the volume knob has
a certain slowness to it. And that’s something we wanted to mimic. We tested out like 10
different sets of creases to really make it the right smoothness, stickiness and fluidity. We can just come up with
new ideas, review them, talk about them, change them, take each others’ ideas
and lift ’em even higher. And it’s a great atmosphere. We put a lot of effort
into the design aesthetic at the beginning. (gentle piano music) – It’s really challenging to actually find this balance in the look, that it doesn’t look busy and it actually looks approachable, not to overwhelm anybody with like too much expression, but keep it kind of open and give the opportunity for
people to express themselves. This was starting a new
product line within Surface. So Surface is a lot about metal, very sheer, shimmery silver tones. And it was challenging
because we had to use plastic for light weight. The idea of having
these two tones of gray, that came actually from that metallic feel that you have shadow
and you have the light. – So the archetype of
the Surface Headphones is a beautiful headband that
is very profiled to the head and has these little wings at the end. Everything happens on paper
first and aesthetically. And then you start to build prototypes. And you start to see if it works, if it’s nice, if it’s too thick, if it’s elegant. The wings actually make it
come closer to the head, so it fits nicer over the head profile. – We in Human Factors do study the human, the diversity of humans. Right ear, left ears are different. For some people, there’s more flared. For some people it’s more closed off. (clicking) Everybody’s heads are different. We have got people with different
head sizes, head shapes. That’s a major challenge, isn’t it? – We must have gone through
at least 60 different designs. Okay, this is gonna take
awhile, but it’s worth it. That’s how you get into
where you want to be. – We spent about a total of three years developing this product. It needs to be done right. User group testing– – From the beginning it
was really clear for us that earmuffs itself that are actually
touching you all the time, that’s the most important feature. We ended up with this
very complicated design. And then we just had this determination that, “Well, let’s try.” With textile, you always
have to have a seam if you have two complicated parts. From the side view, the
two materials come together and they’re pressing against this foam. And it just created this small ripple. It was creating more of a shadow. It wasn’t looking really nice. What if we cut a tiny,
little groove to the foam and we actually put the
seam inside that groove? Everybody was going like,
“This is never gonna work.” But then we tried it. We prototyped some more
and then we got it to work. And we had this perfect earmuff with no wrinkles. – Everything started to come together and I think that was one
of the major milestones in the design work, in
the physical design work that we felt, okay, we’re getting there. We’re getting where we want to be and we’re reaching the
super-high design vision that we targeted. – In our studio, we kind
of came up with this idea of using vignettes. – [Assistant] Good morning, Chris. You have three meetings
today, starting at– – The vignettes are
really sort of like this quick moment that allows you to see a character moving
through a set of experiences or a scene or interacting with people and you get a sense of how
that device would work. – Really understanding
what we’re trying to build and why we’re building this. I wanna make sure that we
are solving human problems, like real, human problems. This was the first ambient
device from Microsoft with an assistant. – [Assistant] I see
three events for today. – Other devices that we’re building, we have a clear, visual understanding of what happens on the screen. Now we were building something
with this digital soul, but it’s only in audio. – So now the headphones
change the dimension. They are now become intelligent agile. – I’m excited to kind of see
how we evolve into this space. You know, this is probably just the start of many really interesting modalities that we’ll see in the future. – Form and function ultimately
have to fuse in harmony. That I think is the ultimate design. So human-centered design. – Good design is this idea that the object that I use
or the experience that I have just feels like it fits into my world. If you can nail that, then
you’ve nailed everything. (camera shutter clicks) – Good design is actually something you would
not necessarily notice. Good design is something
that once you start to wonder why it is like that, that you think, “Hey, there were a lot “of problems solved actually here.” – Designing something that achieves your goals
takes a lot off prototyping. And you can’t be afraid
of trying something that feels funny or
impossible or even stupid. So you have to just be open to this idea of failing. If you fail fast, you can move on. If you don’t try something, like actually try it, you will never know. – [Interviewer] I’m curious. What is the response you would love from someone who’s using the
headphones for the first time? – I mean, it’s usually
something very emotional and not super tangible, but I would want someone to
say how much they love them. – Makes me proud, being able
to have done this project, seeing it work out there, seeing people appreciate the product. – [Interviewer] Do you wanna
go up and say, “I made this”? – I just let them enjoy
it, yeah (chuckles).

100 thoughts on “Microsoft Surface Headphones | Behind the Design: Surface Headphones

  1. Everyone: Surface Headphones don't have any high-quality bluetooth codecs and the noise cancelling isn't that great.
    Microsoft: Oh, yes, we meant for them to be mediocre. They're strictly meant for office use.
    Everyone: 🙄

  2. The dials are cool and other headphones should all have.
    However, you didn't include enough physical buttons, you're noise-cancelling isn't as good as your competition, you're sound quality isn't either, and nor is your bluetooth implementation.

  3. Why didn’t this come out a year ago when they were released and before they were forced off the market because of more advanced competition

  4. I like how Microsoft gave them as much time as they needed to get the product right. This is why surface products are so unique, they're not rushed.

  5. C'mon Panos make us a PHONE!! I guess I could settle for small dual display surface too but I'm tired of android and would never do apple. Are processors fast enough to launch yet? Oct 2 I will be watching your announcements!!

  6. Please improve the soundstage the design is already amazing and yhe noise cancellation is good too but the sound quality lacks so much. for that price, I expected so much better

  7. I am sorry, but this is a failed marketing video. A minute and half into the video, you have not had an interesting attention focal pt.

  8. They are manipulater don't go for what they are talking , next time they will made a headphone ,that will cancel all noise,even inside our ear 😌😌😌😌

  9. One of the best industrial designs for a headphone ever! Love it! A good design is like an ode to the amazing technologies it houses, and the surface headphones is a perfect example.

  10. I like the video, but I wonder why it is released now, a few weeks before the event. Isn't Microsoft going to upgrade these headphones? I am waiting for Surface Book 3 and Surface Go with slim bezels and better battery life.

  11. I've gone through two defective pairs in less than a month. Ended up buying AirPods. I really loved the interface and design SO MUCH but the left cup just kept having issues 🙁 But to reiterate, I DID LOVE THEM.

  12. Interesting how they're trying to sell the same thing sold by Bose, with 10+ mins of saying, nothing much new than traditional specs of headphones

  13. Showing us the behind the scenes of the design is a very well pro-consumer move. Now that you've shown some humanity as a company, I'll give you feedback. People are complaining about the soundstage. This is a big problem since this is a high quality headphone. Also the ergonomics on your head seem phenomenal but on the neck, it doesn't look that comfortable to have over the neck (which is where my headphones sit most of the time so it's important for me). If only the earphones could turn on the x axis it would be way more comfortable (the sound drivers face front while the back of the headphone where the dial also is, should sit flat on the upper side of my chest).

    I think the next generation of surface headphones will be a very appealing product since you guys put so much thought into the physical design of it. I Hope you'll see my comment

  14. I love every Surface product design, i'm a industrial design aspirant and working in a design team like Microsoft's is my ultimate goal. The designs are so clean and cohesive, you know it's a Surface product even if it doesn't have the logo.

  15. So you got all those people working on something that is now getting average reviews on Amazon?
    Here's a wake-up call for you: designers alone don't make great products, designers who listen to consumers make great products.

  16. Love to injection of analog film with a humble graininess to a high tech product in the video. Goes well with the finish of the product.

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