Ever wonder who comes up with the designs of products you use every day? Designers have the ability to shape much of the world around us, articulating the look and feel of the things we use most. Who are these people and what was the thinking behind their designs? We sat down with Motorolan Rhea Jeong, one of the designers of Moto Hint, who was recently recognized in Crain’s Chicago Business as one of Chicago’s tech 50, to pick her brain on finding inspiration in Instagram, pretending to speak Spanish, and designing Moto Hint.

How did you first get into design?
When I was a kid I loved sketching and making things, and reading comics. I was always a very visual person. Growing up I learned the things I liked to create and discover were all actually a process of designing things. Earlier in school I got into making things online like little websites and other communication design-related things, like website and album jacket concepts.

By the time I was in high school, I decided to go into industrial design for a major since I was interested in the synergy of technology and design. After graduating from Hongik University in Seoul for Industrial Design, I decided to come to the US for my career.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I like traveling around and seeing things. I think those experiences accumulate and produce creative fuel. My colleagues are also always an inspiration to me. We share design blogs and new things that pop up. A lot of daily inspiration comes from online sources. Instagram is a great way to see interesting things around the world, if you follow the right sources.

Why is design important to our everyday lives?
It’s a broad question since design can also be seen as a holistic mentality and process. I think good design is important because it can shape our ideas into impactful objects, systems, and creative solutions so we can improve the quality of our lives and create something meaningful that transcends time and location. Design can provoke different ideas and networks that ultimately transform the culture we live in.

What does design say about Motorola?
Our design language connects with the consumers in an approachable way — it’s very “natural” in user experience and industrial design. I believe it speaks to the consumer when we are connecting the object, interaction, and graphics to a single idea and experience—which becomes the brand and identity of Motorola.

What were some of the main inspirations for Moto Hint specifically?
We were imagining people with their heads up and immersed in the moment. Moto Hint could give you the world’s information directly to your ear by asking a question and giving you a choice to hear rather than see the information. This device could be more than an accessory and more like a personal assistant.

The discreet new wear style was key to this product, to make it universally appealing and comfortable and easy to use. We believed revolutionary design and engineering and novel user experience could create its own category and break the stigma of the traditional headset category. The earbud style makes it comfortable, familiar, and easy to use.

Are there any cool details about Moto Hint that may not be immediately apparent?
Moto Hint can detect when it’s in your ear. So it turns on when it’s in your ear and turns off when it’s out. I think it’s a very magical and intuitive experience. Also, it charges when it’s in the intelligent charging case. The lanyard tag on the charging case is the notification, telling you how it’s doing. When connected to a phone like the new Moto X, you can simply start speaking to activate voice commands. When paired other phones, you can simply tap the surface of the earbud to activate voice controls.

One favorite thing I like to do with Moto Hint is ask how I speak a different language. “How do you say ‘such and such’ in Spanish?” And it will read back to you how it’s spoken in your ear. You can just follow and then pretend you speak Spanish!

What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
I think they should try to meet different people, see many things, and go different places. You can learn something from everyone and everything. But ultimately you decide what you act on. Also, try to have inspiring people around you.

Posted by Noelle Chun, Social Media

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