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A small miracle: Interview with the Osmo Pocket design team

22 March 2022 by Adrienn Kerekes 0 Comments

A small miracle: Interview with the Osmo Pocket design team. The original article appeared on the DJI View Points blog. - In November 2018, DJI announced a new product designed to revolutionize photography and create stable, shake-free videos. We've introduced an extremely portable 3-axis gimbal-mounted 4K camera that's small enough to easily fit in your pocket. This small yet gigantic device, the Osmo Pocket, was driven by the idea that everyone should capture breathtaking footage of all of their life's adventures.

To gain insight into the process of how our design team brought this product to life, we sat down with our in-house designers Jeremy Kim, Aaron Wang and Ben He at the company's Shenzhen office.

Osmo Pocket comes from the idea of ​​putting DJI's well-known aerial cameras from the sky into your hands. It started with the very first Osmo, which was the Inspire 1 Zenmuse X3 gimbal camera mounted on a hand-held handle. With the evolution of DJI drones favoring compact size, smart features and unique capabilities, the Mavic Pro has set the Osmo team the next goal in handheld stabilizers.

Aaron, who led the initial part of the design process, explained that designing a product like the Osmo Pocket brought challenges and lengthy discussions about potential features, size, and technology, to name a few.

"In 2016, we first designed a box-shaped camera, about the size of half a brick. It had a rear screen with a camera and gimbal combo that flipped out from the top for use.”

However, this prototype raised concerns, mainly regarding durability, size and general usability. It was bulky and clumsy, so subsequent ideas focused on a minimal yet sophisticated design.

Today, the Osmo Pocket is a perfect example of how form follows function. With its portable, unique and intuitive design, this clever camera was the ideal combination of technology and design.

“In the beginning, there were so many ideas for features that I almost felt like the Osmo Pocket was starting to become a supercomputer,” Aaron admits with a laugh.

After tackling the challenges of the first prototype, the designers were able to quickly sketch out the next design without hesitation, as everything pointed towards a minimal form that could easily fit in one hand.

“The second concept was almost identical to our final Osmo Pocket , except it had a smartphone connection port where the screen currently sits, allowing for vertical video recording,” Jeremy Kim, DJI's industrial design team leader, shared with us. "The other difference is that it didn't have buttons or a screen that would have allowed it to be used independently." At this point, the team also started to consider the user experience. As the designers of DJI knew, their mission is to make complex technology easy, simple, intuitive and accessible to everyone.

“We knew we had to design Osmo Pocket to be usable without a smartphone, but still have the ability to connect to mobile devices for expanded use. We added two multi-purpose buttons, but we wanted to keep it minimal, so we added a touch screen to provide many functions.”

"For the first time, I felt like the Osmo Pocket was starting to become a supercomputer."

In 2017, the team found a way to make the Osmo Pocket understandably simple enough, but also equipped with a number of advanced features for those who want more.

Every detail counts
Ben, who took charge of the final design phases, said the Osmo Pocket's size was inspired by lipstick and Tesla's 18650 battery, which measures 18mm in diameter and 65mm in length.

“Obviously this product has to fit in every pocket – your jeans, your shirt, your dress, wherever – which is quite an extreme task. Being able to fit in your pocket means more than just its size. It also means you don't need anything like a separate carrying case, so you can take it anywhere, anytime."

"In terms of size, we were inspired by lipstick and Tesla's 18650 battery."

Fitting all parts into a tiny form factor without compromising performance; it was a tough task and not a single detail could be left out! The wires had to be thinner, so it required a redesign to make them even thinner. In order to avoid overheating, various materials have been incorporated.

The connection port proved to be the biggest difficulty. Initially, this port was built-in and protruded from the left side of the product; this forced the thinking of two different Osmo Pocket versions for Apple and Android devices.

"That's when we found the solution in the form of an interchangeable connector for different smartphone models," Jeremy shared with us. “We then spent the next few weeks deciding on the connector size. The bigger it got, the lower the power and recording buttons had to be placed, making one-handed use more difficult.”

After a lot of consideration, trial and error, Jeremy and his team finalized the universal port and smartphone adapters we have today. Jeremy is most proud of this design aspect.

Early plans for the Osmo Pocket in 2015 faced a major challenge: there was nothing to compare the product to. Surprisingly, this did not add more pressure to the task. As Jeremy says, “It's not smartphones or computers that people are familiar with, so that's always a challenge. But we were much more confident with the Osmo Pocket .”

“Since the release of the first Osmo, we have studied market trends such as vlogging and analyzed how customers use these products. Based on this information, we believed that Osmo Pocket could change the way we think about cameras for recording everyday life.”

" Osmo Pocket is on its way to revolutionizing the way people define cameras."

In fact, the team's biggest focus has always been how to make a product that fits all of our basic activities in our lives. They wanted the camera to become like your phone, wallet and keys - the things you don't leave your home without.

Its effect
After its release in November, the existence of the Osmo Pocket became known. People love this handheld camera, and more third-party accessories are popping up taking advantage of this compact device.

“It always gives us joy to watch people play with our products and it keeps us inspired,” commented Aaron. "User feedback drives our next project, so much so that it's the first step because it allows us to think creatively from different perspectives to solve new challenges. These ideas can become ideas for new products, so we look forward to everyone's Osmo Pocket story."

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