Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Much has changed over the course of this year and as we navigate the working world, we now find ourselves in an extremely complex situation that seems to change by the day. However, one thing that remains constant is our need for professional-grade audio solutions to enable impactful collaboration from afar. The Poly Sync Family of smart speakerphones was designed to address this need and make your meetings sound flawless regardless of where you work.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Nick Paterson, Sr. Director, of Industrial Design at Poly to get the low-down on how this family of three got their sleek design.
If you’re not yet familiar with the Poly Sync Family, here’s the condensed rundown to get you up to speed: The family is comprised of three USB/Bluetooth® smart devices – the Poly Sync 20, the personal-sized speakerphone and portable speaker; the Poly Sync 40, for flexible/huddle spaces, and the Poly Sync 60 for small to medium conference rooms.
Designed with today’s working environments in mind, we made them dust and water-resistant* – making it easy to wipe-down devices to keep clean and germ-free. Additionally, the Poly Sync 20 is Zoom certified and comes in a Microsoft Teams version, so you can count on a flawless meeting experience every time – and don’t worry, Zoom and Teams certifications are underway for the entire family!
[Question] When looking at Poly’s previous speakerphone solutions, the Poly Sync Family seems to go in a completely different direction in terms of the shape and the overall design. Can you tell us a bit about the design of the family?
[Nick] The design of the Sync family is different from our previous speakerphone products like the Calisto. However, in terms of the direction that our next generation of products is going in, the Poly Sync should look fairly familiar as it follows the same design language as the Poly Studio X and several other new products we are currently developing.
The low to the table form of the Poly Sync Family was designed around three high-performance microphones within the device – compared to the typical one microphone in previous ‘puck’ designs. The use of three microphones creates a beam that focuses on the speaker and allows for better voice pickup. The shape also allowed us to accommodate passive radiators that create greater playback performance with lower distortion. So, the shape isn’t just for looks, it actually contributes to a better audio experience for both the user and the far-end caller.
[Question] In our previous interview, you mentioned that part of your design process is observing workplace trends, can you briefly touch on those trends again and walk us though where they show up in the design of the Poly Sync Family?
[Nick] When we were going into the office, very few – if any people arrive to work in formal business attire. Offices have been trending toward being a place that is meant to be cutting-edge while also being comfortable. That’s what inspired the soft sand dune-like surface on the back of the device and the denim fabric across the front.
To evoke a lifelike or soulful look to our products, we design around attributes like clasping hands and backlit forms with thin floating edges. This contrast of colors lends itself to an intriguing look. In the case of the Poly Sync, the sand color and texture on the bottom of the device visually creates this light and airy look, while the denim face gives off a laid-back feel to it while still looking elevated and modern.
Also, we focused on smooth curves on the bottom of the device to create a shadow that minimizes the silhouette and achieves the light floating feel we’re after with all our new products. The ski tip edge that runs along the control panel creates a kind of tension and then we marry that with soft forms to give it a bit of interest when it all comes together.
We wanted the Sync to contain the same DNA we built into the Studio X and it will be consistent across all of our new products without being too literal.
[Question] Are there any design features that we’ll be seeing for the first time?
[Nick] A little hidden detail that you might perceive after the fact is our little identity Poly pixel on the back of everything that we’re working on right now.
Question] Back to office trends – a lot has changed in this realm since you first began the design process. Did you have to make any changes?
[Nick] Actually yes, when COVID hit there was quite a bit of concern about the fabric on the front – they wanted us to take it all off entirely. Instead, we decided to stick with our original design but added a coating on the fabric that allows the device to be water-resistant, so you can actually spray it with disinfectant and clean it.
But in terms of the basic functionality of these three products, I’d say no. Each of the three models still has a role to play in the COVID-era workplace. For the time being, we expect the Sync 20 to be the most popular since so many of us are working from home. We designed the Sync 40 for huddle/flexible spaces, which are often used for multiple purposes and need a speakerphone that is as flexible as the room. For the Sync 60, we are seeing that in offices that have opened back up, they are utilizing their larger rooms for meetings that would have previously been held in huddle rooms with just a few participants spread out.
[Question] I’m intrigued by the rocket ship button on the Poly Sync… Can you tell me a bit about the user interface of these products?
[Nick] The rocket ship is a programmable button that users can customize to do a number of different functions like bring up voice assistant or play music. We put a lot of thought into what this icon should be because ultimately, it’s open to interpretation – what does a button that can do several things look like? We chose the rocket as an icon for two reasons. First, it launches an activity or function – therefore, the visual of something ‘taking off’ is a suitable representation of this button’s functionality for the user-interface. Second, it’s part of our heritage as a company and it has a playful element that harkens back to our company’s origin story with the NASA Apollo 11. This is also a design element that you will be seeing in our new products down the line.
[Question] Now I’m curious, can you tell me a bit more about what your team is working on?
[Nick] You’re going to have to wait on that – but it’s going to be good, so stay tuned…