The Philips Home Interactive System began as the convergence of media for activies and tasks in the home office. It was developed by researching people's needs, and creating specific enablers for them. The resulting system became a design classic that set the standard for others to follow.
Leading the world in optical technology
In the early 1980s, we were experiencing tremendous success thanks to our innovation in optical media with the CD. At this time, new developments were coming over the horizon: the personal computer, telecommunication networks in the professional environment, the potential convergence of audio and video, and the growing importance of media in popular culture. Times were changing.
In 1984, the drive to extend our intellectual property in this field began by establishing Home Interactive Systems. The objective was to standardize optical media formats including CD-ROM, Photo CD, CD-Interactive, Video CD and formed the foundation for what we now know as DVD. We developed the enabling technologies that would demonstrate the convergence of media and help make tangible opportunities and solutions to facilitate the man/ machine interface.
Designing for the user
Philips Design was involved early on to help the business address these developments. "At the time, no clear concept of a product specification or end product existed," explains Gus Rodriguez, project coordinator at Philips Design. "The design team, by applying context of use and systems analysis, looked at the relationship between activities and tasks, functions, place of use, users and enabling technologies through transitive association. This analysis allowed, two extremes of conceptual solutions to be configured: one was clusters of devices with dedicated functions and services, the other was a flexible adaptable and multipurpose modular approach." A modular approach was selected for the first generation of products; the rationale being that it would provide both the market and the business a level of flexibility as the solutions packages developed.
The world's first modular home interactive system
The modular system was designed to provide a high level of technological, industrial and user flexibility. It had a compact module footprint that would fit on an office desk top or work well within the living room audio/video environment. It could also be used vertically or horizontally, and expand in functionality and usability.
In addition, all connections were standardized mechanically and technically so the user could easily install or adapt a solution. On the hardware modules, these were situated on the rear right side and visually integrated with the display to allow for ventilation slots and suggest the transfer of information via the interconnect with the user display. From an identity perspective, it was designed to take cues from the professional and consumer worlds, introducing a hybrid of formal structure with softer and surprising detailing.