Google Home Mini

IMG_20180130_233059Google’s line of intelligent home speakers have provided a refreshing set of design ideas to the gadget industry in the last couple of years. Pictured above is my Google Home Mini in the ‘Limited Edition Coral’ color. I consider this very good design. It features no dials, buttons, screens, or any other typical design features of recent tech. It does have a soft cloth top atop a smooth plastic base and not much else. It looks like some decorative ornament you would see in a pre-furnished apartment. This is likely what Google intended when designing this product – a piece of tech that won’t get hidden like all the other black and silver boxes with dials, buttons, and screens.

The design elements you can’t see include two touch sensitive zones on either side, a decent speaker, a set of microphones, four lights, a mute switch, a power cord, and most importantly, a wireless internet connection . These all serve the device’s purpose of being an intelligent speaker and personal assistant. In comparison to the technology designs featured Norman reading, the Home Mini has considerably less design elements.

Less design elements does not mean less features, however. The Home Mini will sit quietly until it hears ‘Hey Google’ and it will light up and wait for a question or instruction such as ‘Set a 5 minute timer’ or ‘Play some music’. My main use case is asking ‘Turn on the lights’ which turns on my connected smart bulbs in a nearby lamp. The functionality doesn’t require the physical interaction people are generally used to which opens new possibilities for the design.

I believe this product is an excellent example of good design. The Google Home Mini is meant to be integrated into the home and accomplishes that very gracefully. The fun colors, soft materials and minimalist design make this a pleasant addition to any space. Its non-relation to existing tech design is refreshing and its interesting to see where the direction of modern design is heading.

This design satisfies the characteristics of enargeia with its pleasant colors and shape. It literally conveys invisible significance through visual depiction. When recognized, someone would understand that you can speak to the Home Mini and it will respond ‘invisibly’ through sound. Additionally, it gives the viewer pleasure to look at. Its a pleasing design and, as discussed earlier, its goal is to fit nicely into a home which I believe it does. I think it also evokes a sense of wonder since the interaction is so conversational and exciting to use.


3 thoughts on “Google Home Mini

  1. This is a great description of this product! I know the Google Home, but I’ve never actually seen or heard anyone talk about the Mini before. I’m assuming it was their response to the Amazon Echo Dot (unless this one came first haha).

    Overall, the design is compact, simple, clean, and aesthetically pleasing. The aspect of operating this only with touch areas seems really forward-thinking and sophisticated – likely where a lot more products are headed. I would argue one thing about this though – I thought of when Norman mentioned natural design in the reading for discussion. While the appearance of the product naturally fits in with decor for a home and doesn’t scream speaker, I don’t think it lends itself obviously to know how to use it. I mean, younger millennials might be familiar with the product, and know that you can just speak to it to use, but someone just approaching this Home Mini for the first time would find no indication of what to do first (without seeing a manual or instructions or anything). Norman used the example of the design of a door needing to naturally tell you if it’s push or pull, and I think that is something in this that is lacking.

    However, the addition of other elements to signal you how to use it would clutter the intentional cleanness of the design, so who knows! Great example.

  2. I do like the design of this product, however without reading the manual, it seems like a very complicated item to figure out. Since there are very few buttons, it may be complicated for new users to figure out how the product works.

  3. I love the google home and use it quite frequently. It is much better than the amazon Alexa or echo and while I haven’t used the mini I am sure its just as good except maybe in speaker quality?

    The design itself is very futuristic the only problem is that it’s always listening… A huge network security and personal risk to yourself. The comment Jess made is true as it may not be intuitive as to where you turn it on and if you don’t mind your sentence structure extremely well it can misunderstand you and your request. It can be pretty frustrating to say okay google play a certain program(stranger things) on clarissa’s netflix just to realize you forgot to have it turn on the tv first and need to repeat everything…

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