San Francisco electronics brand Jawbone released the Mini Jambox as the smallest in its range of speakers, which can wirelessly connect with phones, laptops and other bluetooth devices to play music.
Jawbone's creative director Yves Behar told Dezeen that the latest speaker was developed to make listening to music on the go a more communal activity.
"People's experience of music is pretty selfish and very much focused on earphones," said Behar. "I think now we expect speakers to be used everywhere, from underground to office settings."
The speakers are made from extruded aluminium, reinventing the manufacturing process from the original Jambox to reduce the number of parts and assembly steps.
"You really have to develop some manufacturing techniques that are very, very advanced in order to make a product that is affordable," Behar said.
A CNC machine was used to create five textured patterns on the front of the speaker and users can chose between nine different metallic colours.
The speaker is managed through an app, where Mini Jamboxes in range appear as icons in their colour and texture. Many users can connect to one Mini Jambox at a time, so everyone can contribute to the music they're listening to.
"We play the game 'who's music is this?'," said Behar. "Essentially [the Mini Jambox] becomes something that allows people to jump in and play their own music."
In Milan two year ago, tracks submitted by Dezeen readers were played through an installation of Jamboxes called Jamscape. Earlier this year Jawbone released the UP activity-tracking wristband, which monitors how you move, sleep and eat.
We've also featured a gadget that plays music wirelessly through vintage speakers and a wireless speaker that you wear over your sneakers.
Here is some additional information sent to us by Behar:
The Making of the Mini Jambox
The Mini Jambox is the latest entry in the category-leading family of Jawbone speakers. The original Jambox design ushered in the era of the wireless speaker with critical and commercial success. When we first explored what the Mini Jambox could be we dreamed of a very small and pocketable size, of an experience so simple and yet game changing, and of materials and processes so refined they had previously only been used in top-end audio products. Jawbone design goals are to seamlessly integrate technology and everyday life. Mini Jambox is built on the foundation that life is constantly moving; with Mini Jambox you can pick up and bring your sound environment with you. We call it pocketable sound.
The design explorations for Mini Jambox started with a blank sheet and the idea to completely re-invent the wireless speaker, as we knew it. "It's a strange moment when everyone loves your last product, and yet you realise the next one will have to be conceived and re-invented as if we were designing it for the first time," says Yves Behar, CCO of Jawbone.
The user-centred insight and starting point for Mini is that people love the small Jambox size, and yet they want to take the product with them without hesitation about size or weight, from a jacket pocket to a small handbag. Delivering clear, high quality sound in a small space requires a very rigid enclosure with inherent structural integrity. To fulfil this need we explored many roads. Eventually aluminium extrusions combined with a very advanced and patented assembly method became the clear winner. This new approach enabled us to achieve the most efficient use of space, as outer skin and structural skeleton are one and the same. Form and function are truly intersected, as the overall size is the smallest, yet the rigid acoustic cavity affords maximum volume for the sound chamber. The extrusion and material also confers Mini with the strength and robustness needed in a physical object made for portability.
"In order to innovate, we have to take a process and push it somewhere entirely new," says Yves. The demanding pursuit of refining the aluminium extrusion into an entirely new construction and aesthetic took twelve months, flexing what might be possible with a mechanical engineering assembly that requires fewer parts and assembly steps, stewarding major leaps in production capabilities at scale. "The result is that the Mini exterior skin is also the internal skeleton, in one fluid gesture; we are not just wrapping internal components with a sexy package, the package is the sound chamber."
The Jawbone design language has always pursued minimal construction and geometry, made personal through the integral use of relief textures that are both personal and tactile. On Mini, we are pushing the boundary of rough and fast CNC, typically used to machine mechanical internal details. We flip the use of this usually hidden process, employing it externally to reveal beautiful capabilities for textures. We used large CNC cutting bits programmed to sculpt a few marks in the aluminium at high speed; the resulting intersections create new unexpected patterns. The beautiful reliefs, enhanced by reflecting light on Mini, are the result of a craft methodology developed with small machine shop partners, requiring a deep collaboration between designers, machinists, and engineers.
The CNC process innovation has transformed what's both possible and efficient in using aluminium. We turned CNC, an industrial process, into a brush we can paint with. Mini Jambox speakers' highly specialised perforations and unique framework channel sound for clear, elegantly routed sound. Functionally driven design that is also expressive.
The five textures and nine anodised colours allow people to make Mini into their own personality. The textures also provide a tactile grip, and each of them is carefully matched to an anodised colour that shows aluminium relief best.
From the design to the user interface and packaging, we believe Mini Jambox is our crown jewel of Jawbone design and craft. "Every element goes back to the purest expression of simplicity, performance, and elegance," says Yves. Mini combines beautiful design and experience at the most minimal size. Providing unparalleled and uncompromised listening in a breakthrough highly portable mini package, Mini Jambox blasts rich sounds at high volume. The integrity of the Mini materials and craft enhances our music experience in ways we could only have dreamed off.