The Brief

Create a universal range of products for Chromebooks that start from 11" to 14" with a sleek, modern yet highly protective range of enclosures.

Cellairis was looking for a solution that would reduce the complexity of introducing a case for every single size or version of Chromebook in every K12 classroom. These Chromebooks that are given to students, not only need to be protected but also have a variety of ports and openings that are indicative of the usage of the devices. In addition to that, there are varying profiles of the laptops that need a huge amount of design and engineering to create a universal solution for all of them.

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CLIENT


Cellairis Pvt Ltd

SERVICES


Focussed Market Research
Design Language
Concept Generation
Design Engineering
Product Architecture
Visualization
Prototyping
Production Support

YEAR


2017-18
2018-19

The Problem


A Chromebook is manufactured by every single tech brand selling laptops in the US and each one has its own form profile, location of ports, power connectors, hinge designs that are radically different from each other, battery positions, heat vent areas, and much more. The amount of variables that define a certain brand of Chromebooks is quite large and makes a significant impact on the design of the protective enclosure. All of these are mainly a derivative of the problem that is having a customized enclosure for the large number of Chromebooks out there and the amount of tooling investment, time to market, and package and ship to various locations. If there was one or maybe even two versions between the 11 to 14 inches size range, then it would make the overall product line simple to make, economic to maintain, and also logistically transport to various distribution centers.

Understanding

User Challenges

Develop a design for a laptop case targeted to students in K12 schools. This meant while the case had to appeal to the young users it also had to provide 360° protection from falls, and be sturdy enough to withstand the daily wear and tear.

Regular replacement

What looks good does not protect

Lack of variety in protective cases

Understand & Strategise


The project intention was very clear from the client to execute and deliver the results through a hardcore linear industrial design approach. We worked closely with the client to identify what was important and how we should approach the project. We started by researching the market to understand product architectures as well as pricing. Positioning these helped us understand where some of the opportunities were for us to create a unique offering for our products and set a clear design direction.

Understanding the Market

Competitor Snapshot

After studying a lot of different products, we arrived at benchmarking the following as products that are somewhat close to what we were trying to achieve. Understanding how they work and understanding the materials used helped us to not go into these directions. A sound competitor analysis always helps set alternative design paths so as to not emulate existing products in the market.

Design process

Design Direction

Armed with a lot of understanding about the product, the market, the user, and their challenges, we went about setting a clear design direction to work on.

Simple mechanisms that are easy to manufacture.
Universal Solutions.
Clean Minimalistic design with a hint of protection.
Color as an element to indicate function/materials.
Modular product architecture.

 

Solving for

Making sense of Data

We started by consuming a whole amount of data in which we were able to ascertain certain patterns and clear areas of moving around to understand what is possible.

Each laptop model was imported into CAD to be set in an assembly file where we could review the various features and details that were different and find common ground on how to create a universal language in terms of form, function, and familiarity for the users to use the product.

Understanding

Form and Edge profiles

After collating all the devices that we needed to design a universal enclosure for, we started looking into them in cad and overlaying each profile and size to create various buckets that we could put them into. These buckets gave us an idea of how many variations we needed to create as some of these devices had very unique shapes and edge profiles and details. We also got a great amount of detail on what our tolerance limits are and how far we can push certain product architecture features to get what we wanted.

Core Ideation

Ideating to solve the primary problems

Design Process

Immersion

Post it Ideation not only helps iterate on a lot of ideas but also is great for immersion when starting a project. We start exploring various solutions and iterations on a particular product and what the individual features of that particular product are.

Design Process

Detailed Ideation

We were able to generate a huge amount of ideas that were then organized and distributed to the team to take up detailed ideation where we start imparting a basic form and lot of functional details on how the universal, protection, and simple to manufacture aspect could be retained. A variety of ideas were generated and pinned up to discuss and debate.

Design Process

Refining the details

Design Process

Concept Development

With a clear idea of the concepts we wanted to move ahead with, we started organizing them with clear sketches that could communicate to the client and the engineering teams the mechanisms, the intent and what each one was unique.

Design Process

Concept Development

More development was done on how we were able to fit a variety of laptops into one single enclosure. Each of these detailed concepts was showcased in orthographic views in order to communicate material, manufacturing details, and also the overall product itself on how it would be achieving the goals set with the design direction.

Design Process

Concept Development

Various scale and proportion concepts that define a language and align with the broader user base were developed after detailed design and engineering refinement cycle. Each of these concepts contained the primary requirements in the design direction but presented the client with various options to choose from.

Design Process

Feature Development

Once the client finalized the concept based on the pro’s and con’s of each concept, we went to work in defining and detailing individual features before it got into final engineering. Each of these features needed detailed work on how they would fit and work with other components in the concept and that had to be clearly communicated via detailed sketches.

Defining proportions

Iterative Prototyping

Working with our vendor partners, the finalized concept variations were prototyped using a variety of techniques including cast urethane molds, CNC machining blocks of plastic and gluing it together to create co-molded details on the product as well as using transparent plastic to convey a sense of lightness in the concept. Most of these ideas were based on functional 3d models created by the team to test out scale, proportion, function, and fit rather than the aesthetic.

Concept Development

Analysis & Refinement

Every prototype and the final concept which was sent to the factory had a number of discussions where we would work with them to refine the details on what was possible yet maintain the design integrity. This was quite a long phase as it involved pricing based on all the design updates and also material sourcing challenges in order to create a robust working prototype before mass manufacturing 100’s of thousands of units in a mold.

Concept Development

Techpack & Material Mapping

Concept Development

Testing & Refinement

Each laptop out of the 7-10 different models we worked with was completely different in terms of dimensions, ports, and other functional details and we had to map out all of the placements in terms of where and dimensionally the liberties we could take in order to fit a variety of devices in a single universal design. Mocking up these various models and overlaying them helped us overcome this with rigorous testing in CAD as well as with paper models.

Features

Universal
Protection.

To fit Chromebooks from 11” – 14 “ in a single co-molded ultra protective shell was the brief and we achieved it without any compromise. Industry-leading protection with a unique molding design for corners to help with drop impact and resilient area coverage. Each of these corners also flexed out to fit various different sizes of laptops.

Solving the essential problems of the universal laptop case was a huge challenge what we achieved with a fantastic saving of over 135K USD in tooling and also achieving a consistent product line language for all laptop enclosures across the product portfolio

Solving for

Corner Protection

By pushing the cable to the back of the product and by shifting the CG a bit we were able to create a stable mount with the right weight distribution. The cable in the back doesn’t hinder any controls on the dash and can be routed through areas that are away from the main dashboard.

Solving for

Universal Fit

By keeping the corners flexible we are able to achieve a universal fit with different profiles as well as edge details on different laptops. Along with it, we were able to achieve a closed hinge design that protected the chrome books when they fell. The heat vents covered a large amount of area so that there could be ample heat dissipation and the co-molding details helped keep the overall enclosure light and thin while being protective.

** Laptop back is shown in transparent material just to show the flexible straps inside. All 4 corners are flexible to fit various sizes of chrome books**

Solving for

Heat Dissipation

A variety of laptops have heat vents distributed on the back in various areas. We mapped all the areas and designed the back so that the heat vents could sit in an angled concave surface where cold air could enter and the hot air could be dispensed. This took away the heat from the flat surface keeping it cool.

Solving for

A Flexible Hinge

Most of the laptops we were designing for had a 360º hinge that could rotate to become a tablet, so instead of designing a mechanical hinge, we designed a strong TPU hinge with a serrated inner that could fold and protect the hinge in case of a drop but equally flexible at the same time.

The Results

The advantage of a clear design process and working through iterative improvements.

135K $

Tooling costs saved

45%

Increase in sales inquiries

7+

Fits Various laptops

15%

More flexibility in viewing angles

Work with us, email  [email protected] or contact us here

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