Behind the story of PressIT
- PressIT Wireless Presentation System: a novel product stands out in a new business climate
- The paradox of good design being “invisible”: how PressIT functional design shapes the user experience
- Exhaustive development focuses on product usability
- A process of trial and error
- Striving for the tactile click of a luxury mouse
- Central to meeting room equipment
PressIT Wireless Presentation System: a novel product stands out in a new business climate
Behind the Product invites Panasonic employees to discuss the development of new product solutions. In Part 1 of our exploration of the PressIT Wireless Presentation System, Lead Engineer Takayuki Kida explains how the pandemic changed the device’s development trajectory and turned a unique product into something even better than expected. Part 2 in this series of interviews on PressIT is published here
PressIT was developed to streamline meetings and lectures. Content from the presenter’s PC can be transmitted to a conference room or classroom display or projector with a single button push. It’s no longer necessary for meeting participants to change seating positions, share a cable, or touch the remote controller.
The pandemic had significant impact on product development with suspended factory operations affecting parts procurement and prototype production. These challenging circumstances inspired the team to deliver a product capable of dramatically enhancing the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of what is becoming an even more precious resource—face-to-face communication.
As the world comes to grips with life during the pandemic, what role will PressIT play in the conference room and beyond? And what’s behind such commitment to the product?
Engineering leader of the PressIT
Also in charge of pro display category including software engineering
Exhaustive development focuses
on product usability
The product we’re discussing today, PressIT, is a Wireless Presentation System. What kind of product is that, exactly?
Have you ever had difficulty connecting your PC when giving a presentation in a meeting room or had images that didn’t appear on screen even though your device was properly connected to the display or projector?
It happens all the time. The connection appears to be good, but for some reason it’s not working … it’s like a stereotypical conference room moment where the gaze of waiting people is almost painful…
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could share your PC screen to a display or projector with a single press of a button?
No, no way! Can you do such a thing?
Yes, you surely can. PressIT is a product that connects a transmitter to your PC or other device and allows you to share content at the touch of a button. It consists of a receiver that connects to the display or projector and a transmitter that connects to the presenter’s PC. When you press a button on the transmitter, the screen of the PC is shown wirelessly on the display or projector screen.
A process of trial and error
Display booth at the 2019 exhibition.
You learned about the needs of customers in the United States and decided to start again. But did you have an opportunity to hear the needs of customers in other regions?
I tried something different. PressIT is a new category of product for us, so I decided to share the concept more widely within the company to get people interested. We gathered about 20 people from various departments to discuss what kind of specifications would be best.
Is that something 20 people can just get together and decide on?
No, everyone had different ideas. I was told I gathered too many [laughs]. It was tough… For example, here were many opinions about how many seconds the button should be pressed for. Originally, we were thinking of three seconds to prevent mishaps, but some thought three seconds was too long. We settled on two seconds just yesterday*…
* This interview was conducted in mid-August, 2020.
Yesterday!? It took that long to decide?
Everyone has their own particular preference regarding the product based on the application that most closely corresponds to their area of responsibility. I can understand everyone’s point of view, but it’s difficult to just put that together and say, “I’ll do this.” We discussed it all thoroughly, and then decided on specifications that everyone could agree on.
It’s quite a daunting task ... On the other hand, did you ever have a moment where you thought, “We’re all on the same page?”
A lot of people said they wanted it to be easy and to have the ability to operate it without having to look at anything. Oh, and they also said, “Please make it with just one button.”
But there are two buttons on the transmitter now, aren't there? It would certainly be easier if you could just use one…
That’s true, but the buttons are made with meticulous perfectionism.
Striving for the tactile click of a luxury mouse
Two buttons occupy the entire surface of the PressIT transmitter. The larger button is designated as Main and the smaller button as Sub.
What is Multi Mode?
It allows you to split the screen into four segments and share content from up to four devices at the same time. At first, quite a few people said that Multi Mode wasn’t necessary. “We don't use it in a conference room,” they said. However, we were also considering usage at universities and other educational institutions, so we really wanted to include Multi Mode. Some in the education field said it’s absolutely necessary for comparing students’ work results side by side. We convinced everyone that Multi Mode would differentiate us from other products, and that’s how we ended up with the product in its current form.
And so now there’s two buttons.
It’s another thing I’m a bit obsessed with... I wanted the buttons to feel like they’re clicking. I wanted it to have that “click” sensation you get when you use a slightly more expensive mouse. Mechanically, it was quite difficult to achieve. Because the buttons cover the entire surface, if you press off-center, the other end of the mouse goes up like a seesaw, and you can’t press the center, which is crucial.
I see, the range of pressing and reacting is limited…
We went through a long process of trial and error to expand the actuation range of the button surface. We were still dissatisfied with the button’s feel, so we made more prototypes at the factory.
Was that okay, considering the schedule?
I was scolded by some, who said, “That’s enough!” [Laughs]. The first prototype was delayed because the factory in China was shut down due to coronavirus, and production of the prototype was pushed back to April.
Even if you’re a month late, you’d be in a bind. I imagine people would be upset if you announced at that point that you’re doing another prototype.
We asked to do another prototype, saying that we’d try our best to keep the release date the same. We managed to work it out and are proceeding with the same release date. The result is a button that will become the face of PressIT, and I’m proud to say this challenge turned out to be a success. We were worried about the reaction of our customers, and were relieved that people instinctively understood how to use the product.
From what I’ve heard, you really put a lot of people’s ideas into every single specification and button.
Everyone who contributed was from within our company, but as long as you view them as typical customers, I want to hear from them. Well, I didn’t expect it to take quite so long to come together, considering there are only two buttons…
Central to meeting room equipment
- Interview by Masaki Inoue