OPPO and the Royal College of Art continue partnership by exploring design that goes “Beyond Smart”
27 September 2022, LONDON – OPPO and the Royal College of Art (RCA) this month celebrated the fourth year of their partnership with a new project exploring the concept of “Beyond Smart” design. Through the project, the RCA School of Design students submitted over 70 innovative designs, 12 of which were showcased as part of the RCA’s graduate show during London Design Festival 2022.
While today’s technology has made our lives easier and more streamlined through greater intelligence, automation, connectivity, and efficiency, much of this has come at a cost to meeting basic human needs for connection and relationships with the people and the environment. Through the “Beyond Smart” project, OPPO wanted to encourage the RCA young designers to re-evaluate existing paradigms in design and challenge current expectations about future technologies. By seeking new guiding principles that go “Beyond Smart”, the program aimed to identify and develop new value systems that empower personal fulfilment and create more good in the world.
“Working with OPPO teams opens a hatch for our students into the workings of a global industry brand. The professional knowledge and experience delivered by OPPO together with the academic support from the RCA and the creative freedom given to the students help deliver a unique learning experience and explore new paths to better futures,” said Alon Meron, Design Products tutor at the Royal College of Art and lead on the collaboration project.
Students were tasked with envisioning new designs inspired by three principles: the shift from individual smart products to smart ecosystems, connecting people to improve wellbeing, and sustainable production and consumption models. Some of the notable works include:
• Data Capsule is an app that turns users’ memorable data into an AR experience that is stored virtually at the geographic location where the data was first created. Once stored, the original user, their friends and family, or even a stranger can be invited to view the memory through an AR map when visiting the location in person. The link between the physical location and the virtual memories is able to bring digital memories to life like never before.
• SCENTLAROID is a scent printing system that can print out scented photos. Using AI and machine learning methods, SCENTLAROID can recognize objects in photos and identify scents related to these objects. On the receiver side, a custom scent printer prints out the photo with the corresponding scent, allowing users to share enhanced emotional connections that transcend time and space.
• Sountex scans and narrates text as a user reads physical books in real-time, enabling readers to read and listen simultaneously. Through advanced technologies such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for scanning text, and text to lifelike speech enhanced by sound exciters, regular paper books can be uplifted to create an entirely immersive reading experience.
• Beewell provides shelter and water to bees, with the aim of preserving these precious insects. the watering spots are connected to an IoT system that recognizes bee species and tracks their wellbeing by listening to their hum.
As part of this partnership, the academic team from RCA also worked using OPPO products to develop an internal sustainability research project in collaboration with the wildland reserve Knepp, West Sussex. Nature Based Interactions is a project aimed at using Machine Learning and artificial intelligence to map bird population by recognizing different species from their singing.
Nature Based Interactions
"OPPO is honored to be working with the RCA for a fourth year now, and once again, we’ve seen some incredibly creative and fresh ideas from this year’s Design Product cohort,” said Hope Liu, Head of OPPO Industrial Design Center.
“Throughout the process, we have been sharing our insights and resources with the RCA students to help them explore more possibilities in what it means to go ‘Beyond Smart’. Guided by our brand proposition of ‘Inspiration Ahead’, OPPO hopes to empower society and create more sustainable value for people with our human-centric designs and products,” added Jintong Zhu, Head of OPPO London Design Centre.
Since the start of their partnership in 2019, OPPO and the RCA have been working together on innovative design projects that encourage promising young designers to explore more human-centric approaches to design and experiment with new ideas. The partnership not only reflects OPPO’s long-standing commitment to supporting emerging design talents across the world, but also reaffirms OPPO’s own pursuit in finding the perfect balance between innovative technology and artistic design. As technology continues to have an ever more complex impact on virtually every aspect of people’s lives, OPPO is constantly making the most of its strengths in innovation to satisfy user needs and explore more ways to deliver real value for society, including through its long-term partnership with the world’s top art school.