Killer Sound: Cinco’s UX Design for Belkin Thunderstorm

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You’ve probably watched movies, played games or listened to music on your iPad. It’s an awesome way to bring your entertainment anywhere, but for true audiophiles, those little speakers can be pretty disappointing.

Enter the Belkin Thunderstorm, engineered by Audifi. It looks like a big case for your iPad with a speaker bar across the bottom. You place your tablet inside, then open up your ears. “This device basically turns your iPad into a home theatre experience,” says Kirk James, principal and executive creative director at design agency Cinco.

Audifi Belkin Thunderstorm Movies Image

Harmonize Hardware + Software

To help bring this portable surround sound to market, Cinco worked on everything from the industrial design strategy and brand strategy to the visual identity, UX app design and more. But what we were most curious about was the UX app that controls the audio experience.

Audifi Branding, by Cinco Design Agency

The UX App Design that Sparks the ‘Storm

New users quickly set up the device with the app, and if they choose, they can personalize the audio profile of the speakers to their taste or activity. A hardcore gamer, for instance, might want more dramatic sound than someone watching a classic movie.

To make these fine adjustments, there are two virtual knobs on a track that users can move closer together or farther apart to broaden or tighten the sound. And these knobs are surrounded by two simple speaker graphics.

“When you’re doing this [tuning the knobs], you’re hearing it as well,” says Matt Capozzi, product experience director. “As you manipulate it, the visual on the screen is reflecting what’s happening, but you’re also hearing it and feeling it in your hand. It’s a full sensory experience.”

Audifi Games Image for Belkin Thunderstorm

UX Control: A New Movement in Device Technology

Although many users may only open the audio settings once, this project stands out because it’s part of a new movement of devices, such as the Nest thermostat, that allow the iPhone or iPad to control things in your physical environment.

“The app itself isn’t a really complex experience,” James says. “The magic is that it’s intrinsically linked to a hardware device.” Still, the team conducted testing for the app to refine the speed and timing of the animation and how it feels to move those knobs.

And that pleasing green color on the screen? It plays off the Belkin brand. Now go ahead and turn the volume up, please.