Feature Speaker Interview: Basheer Tome

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Feature Speaker Interview: Basheer Tome

Basheer Tome is a hardware interface designer with a firm belief that products should feel beautifully designed even after the first button press. He designs new controllers for immersive computing and served as the industrial & interaction design lead on the Google Daydream Controller, shepherding it from sketch, to breadboard, to CAD, to launch.

Working as a hardware interface designer for a company like Google brings you to the perfect intersection of hardware and software. Did you start on the hardware, or software side, and what initiated the first jump to the other side?

On the input team at Daydream, we work in that gray no-man's-land between hardware and software; we build the bridges to connect them together. The vast majority of our job is the design of those bridges where, by necessity, we work on both sides in parallel.

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With VR we had the rare opportunity to begin with almost a completely clean slate. So, the Daydream controller started with one button. I designed a few 3d printed models to feel it. We built a hardware prototype to use it, and then we wrote a software prototype to experience it. Then we added another button. Rinse and repeat until things felt balanced between simplicity and expressivity.

 

Do you have a favourite classic controller?

I absolutely adore the Gamecube controller. It's not the best by a long shot, but it's my favourite. They were so brave in none of the wrong ways the N64 controller was (WHO HAS 3 HANDS?). The joysticks have these awesome octagonal cutouts on them so that you can just nail N, S, E, W & the 45's without sacrificing the buttery-smooth analog range in-between.

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I also love their trigger design which has a juicy amount of linear analog travel with a tact-switch click at the end for extra confirmation.

Form or function, if you had to choose only one.

Design is so specifically the direct combination of the two that picking is insanity. But, our palettes as designers have expanded to include more interactive screens, sensors, and electronics. This pushed the craft of how technology makes people feel to become an even larger part of designing and developing the products we use, make, hold, and love.

It's these subtle, often subconscious cues, experiences, and interactions that can make or break a device. They're what make a product grow in beauty with each button press.

So, if I had to make a personal decision based on what parts of my job give me the most joy, it's those days that have to do with crafting that functionality and I'd pick it any day.

Many of your projects combine food and technology, can you describe the ultimate future kitchen in your mind?

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The ultimate kitchen, in my mind, focuses on involving people in the everyday process of growing and making food so that it’s fun and exciting rather than a chore to be simplified.

It's a beautiful, accessible, naturally-lit place that you'd just as easily expect to have in an office, mall, or hotel, as you would in your home. It doesn't break down without a connection to your phone. It doesn't intimidate you through arcane grids of capacitive buttons. And it definitely doesn't try and do everything for you with the end hope of "smart"-ing you out completely.

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The ultimate kitchen is the new toolshed and living room combined. It's a place to work, live, & learn with people. And most of all, it's a place where I hope that the new electronic tools we'll create treat cooking as an activity that's achievable, measurable, creative, and fun.

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Learn more about Google Daydream and Basheer's other projects at:

FITC Amsterdam // Design. Technology. Cool Shit.
Amsterdam • Feb 20-21, 2017

FITC Toronto // The Future of Innovation, Technology & Creativity
Hilton Toronto • April 23-25

Or on his website basheertome.com