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Dennis Hissink : April 13th 2010 - 12:00 CET

Microsoft KIN Two

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MicrosoftShoot and share with Microsoft KIN Two social phone : With KIN, social networking is built into the fabric of the phone. KIN has a fun, simple interface, which is designed to help people publish the magazine of their life by making the people and stuff they love the focus rather than menus and icons. The unique hardware design was developed in partnership with Sharp to create a new kind of social phone. The Microsoft KIN Two phone features a touch screen and slide-out keyboard. TWO has a large screen and keyboard, in addition to more memory, a high resolution camera, and the ability to record high-definition video. The 8 megapixel camera in TWO is designed for use in low light with image stabilization and a bright LumiLED flash.
Microsoft KIN Two

Design of Microsoft KIN Two smartphone
Interestingly, the source of the inspiration for the Microsoft KIN Two came from more traditional media: After hitting a brick wall during a brainstorm session, the team headed out to a local bookstore for some inspiration. They ended up buying a few dozen magazines and bringing them back to Pioneer Studios, hoping the images inside would spark an epiphany. For Pioneer Studios creative director Jon Friedman, it’s not symphonies or sunsets that inspire great design. It’s the little things we work with every day.

Rich content is key element for Microsoft KIN phone
“We started cutting them up and throwing them on the wall,” creative director For Pioneer Studios Jon Friedman says. “But as we looked at that stuff, it wasn’t the content on the wall that spoke to us - it was the medium of the magazine, which is really rich and powerful.” At that moment, he says, the magazine became the metaphor for a Microsoft KIN phone. It was a theme that would guide them the rest of the way. The team was struck by the ability of magazines to transcend all different types of content, yet discuss and elevate individual stories, represented by pictures, articles and layout.

Microsoft KIN Two phone

Share, involve and make friends via Microsoft KIN Two phone
“Some metaphors feel like they’re really powerful, but they don’t extend,” he says. “The magazine metaphor extended. We had to start thinking more like we were writing an article and less like we were designing a phone.” Like a magazine, a Microsoft KIN Two phone is designed around publishing stories - in this case, the ones created by friends and family in status updates, text messages, group photos and everything else people share every day. “We saw an opportunity to treat your friends as contributors and editors of your storyline, and make you an editor and a contributor to your friends’ storylines,” Friedman says. “Only instead of being published month to month, your story is published from moment to moment.”

Microsoft KIN tools to connect and create
With each user’s personal content taking center stage, Friedman and his team began to envision how the device would look and feel. “There are sort of two sides to one of these phones,” Friedman says. “The bottom side is compact, discreet - personal. The top is more like the eyeball. It’s the window into the soul of the experience and how you connect to people.”

Microsoft KIN 2

Consumers ideas led to Microsoft KIN 2 concept
When it came time to fine-tune the hardware for the Microsoft KIN 2, the development team also tapped into a new resource, a consumer collaboration effort called project muse. Microsoft’s Stephanie Camp, who headed project muse, says the program drew inspiration from other models on the Web. “Consumer collaboration is a way for companies to get feedback and ideas from the market itself,” Camp says. “There’s an apparel site, for example, that knows there will be demand for a certain design because people actually voted to make it happen. It’s a smart way of tapping into consumers for ideas and creativity, and also to promote your product.”

Project Microsoft KIN 2 is created from contributed suggestions
Camp says the team faced some interesting challenges with KIN. Microsoft remained completely anonymous during the process, for example, so volunteers had no idea who was building the new phone or why. Despite the quirks, project muse wound up with more than 2,000 members, some of whom contributed to the effort on a daily basis. Some were given Flip cameras and asked to record segments of their daily lives. Others contributed suggestions that were passed on to the engineers and designers creating the new phone. Feedback from the community affected the ultimate outcome of important elements such as the QWERTY keyboard, camera and flash, like you see with the Microsoft KIN Two touch screen phone.

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