The project aims to reinvent and update with digital functions a classic and iconic design object (before 2000). The main object form and functionality should remain as close as possible to the original concept, while the digital interaction will be obtained by the incorporation of a regular smartphone. In order to create the prototype, the requested challenge is to build a full 3D model in Fusion360 first, and then build the physical object using 3D printing, CNC milling and laser cutting. The first Sony Walkman, released in 1979, inspires the Walkmaind prototype.

Interface and Interaction Modality

Five physical buttons provide the main interaction with the Walkmaind prototype. There are two volume buttons on the side and three playback functions buttons on the front. The side buttons physically connect to the smartphone’s volume push buttons, while the front buttons interact with the touchscreen and connect to the app functionalities play/pause, backwards and forwards. The music playlist must be previously set using the smartphone app. The smartphone is easily accessible while still placed inside the prototype. For design and functionality purposes, the app in use is Casse-o-player by Valentyn Vieshchunov.

User Experience

The interaction with the Walkmaind is very simple and still fully functional. The design is true to the original concept and reflects the nostalgic feeling for the old iconic design. The smartphone is only there to play the music. It is loaded inside the object in a very similar way as a cassette tape, and then it disappears. With this easy gesture, Walkmaind becomes a digitalized Walkman.

Research and Development Context

Beside of the physical object design research, the user experience research was quite important for this project. In honor of the original Walkman's 40th birthday in 2019, Sony released an anniversary edition of the iconic cassette player. An interesting remark is that the users over the internet are very enthusiastic about the new release for nostalgic reasons, but they actually dislike the overly digitalized version of the newest Sony Walkman that makes it feel exactly the same as any modern digital player with a touchscreen, so it is no more special.