The challenge to implement the new standard, the Hi-MD Photo
Q: This is the new Hi-MD [MZ-DH10P/R] but it corresponds to a new standard, the Hi- MD Photo, is that correct? Could you please elaborate on this new standard?

A [Product planner, Hirasawa]: Actually, the concept of Hi-MD Photo originated from the birth of MD in 1992 and was discussed in the interview-article about ``the introduction of Hi-MD Audio.'' But the idea truly reached its zenith in July 2004 with the advent of Hi-MD. The advent of Hi-MD simply provides the foundation for the conception of implementing image storage-recording capability for this format.

The new Hi-MD Photo, which evolved from MD to Hi-MD, has been an exclusive music format since its inception. Now it functions as a general purpose media which can also record images with Hi-MD independent from the computer.

Hi-MD Photo also conforms to the DCF/Exif standard, which is the de facto standard of the recording mode for digital camera. Additionally, images recorded in the Hi-MD media can be shared with other devices such as digital cameras and printers.

In addition, because Hi-MD Photo maintains the thumbnail format to view images, this indicates that one can search or view music information by scrolling thru album jackets.

Q: So, is this picture and Walkman? Will the music scene with Walkman change by the fact that one can use Hi-MD Photo to take photographs?

A [Hirasawa]: First of all, we would like to break the general conception that Walkman equates music. Indeed, Walkman created the culture that took music outside — the idea of portability — but that is its original goal. Hi-MD Photo allows the user the option to enjoy music and pictures at the same time.

Furthermore, the combined functions of Hi-MD Photo — music and picture — can allow further possibilities. For example, usage of album jackets, photographing lyric cards, scenery and etc [*]. Since, this is the first MD device that adopts the idea of ``Digital Music Visual Player'' you can imagine the possibility of enjoying music in different methods.

* while playing back music, photography is not possible.

Akira Tanaka [Designer]
Sony Corporation Information Technogy and Communications Network Company Personal Communications Business Section. MZ-DH10P Design Project Leader
Tsutomu Hirasawa
Sony Corporation Personal Audio Visual Network Company. Personal Audio Business Headquarters Marketing Strategic Section
Justification for its size and design: MZ-DH10P in retrospect to its predecessor.
Q The advent of Hi-MD Photo has expanded the world of Hi-MD Walkman. However, wouldn't you agree that by implementing image and photo capability, this idea have increased the size of the unit?

A [The designer, Soichi Tanaka]: There is a prevalent prejudice in maintaining existing size of the MD Walkman due to standards set by its predecessors. The MZDH10P unit that I could show at the end of 2003 was still a prototype with a 3 mega pixels camera then considered as a prerequisite. When you employ a higher mega pixels camera module, the size of the unit inevitably increases - thus, the tremendous size in comparison to existing MD Walkman. Although the concept of this new MD Walkman has the ability to take pictures it is not a digital camera, so to speak. In addition, the notion that MD Walkman being a digital camera is not welcomed. So when it does, ``you will be appointed by the design project leader'' with the responsibility to reduce its size. (S. Tanaka laughing)

Q: So, what did you do to enable reduction in size?

A [The designer, Soichi Tanaka]: Typically, MD Walkman's electronic circuits and chips are placed or installed if you will on both sides of the base plates. Thus, the additional camera module for the MZ-DH10P requires advanced circuitry, which led to the one base plate being divided into 2 for the camera module with existing MD circuits and chips.

The placement of advance circuitry within the base plates nevertheless ``is still thick and needs to be marginally thinner'' (S. Tanaka laughing). However, because both of the two base plates were used with no quarter spared, the unit will inevitably become thicker.

While a variety of designs were examined, at the end the camera module was only mounted on one side of the base plate so that our aim to attain a slim unit will be realized.

The drawing process of the blueprint was very repetitious. The contour of the unit had to be redrawn one after another just to achieve the best arch appearance for the unit.

A [The Project Design Leader, Akira Tanaka]: Hence, the design of the unit's main frame was an essential part of the internal design as well.

Soichi Tanaka [Designer]
SONY corporation design center PCD MZ-DH10P Designer
MD media and 'DH10P' size relative picture of baseplate

Music + Picture = The embodiment of a new concept and design.
Q This model bears a soft rectilinear line with a distinct shape. When did you conceive the idea of arch shape?

A [The Project Design Leader, Akira Tanaka]: It was in January, 2004 that a conceptual design of this model was born. So, the arch shape of the unit was conceived since the beginning. Indeed, the rectilinear design also facilitates the development of an internal design that is structurally viable.

The rationale for the arch shape revolves around the implementation of the ability to take photographs with the unit. Because this model now operates beyond the conventional use of the remote with MD, the need for this model to be user friendly when the photography option is used is crucial. Therefore, you can imagine the need of an ergonomic form so that it is useable with the hand. The arch shape allows the hand to fit ergonomically with the unit when the user is taking pictures. And, if I had designed the unit by adjusting the height of the camera module to match the color liquid crystal (OLED) area, the unit itself will look much fatter (A. Tanaka laughing). Therefore, the rectilinear design was necessary.

A [The designer, Soichi Tanaka]: However, the main body of the unit can't stand on its own due to its arch shape design (S. Tanaka laughing) and feeling embarrass by this disclosure). This is amusing because there is a self timer function and for it to work efficiently, the cradle of the unit will be necessary for obvious reason.

Q The design of the front and the rear of the unit where it spots a black band are very impressive.

A [The Project Design Leader, Akira Tanaka]: Another prejudice on this latest model is that it has neither front nor rear sides. In fact, there is a role to each sides of the unit. Each face of the unit expresses the function of the camera and the music, which in essence is the concept of Walkman + picture. To be clear, there is no distinct concept of front and rear sides.

This time, the OLED screen was utilized and installed onto the housing of the new model. Because the new OLED screen will be mainly used for navigation of music database, the black color scheme of the band was thought to be ideal. The rationale behind the dark color band around the OLED is to provide a cleaner contrast when navigating between music databases and enhance the experience when viewing jacket photographs.

In addition, to express the concept of Walkman + picture, the music and picture aspect were seamlessly connected within the black band. The black band has a functional aspect aside its aesthetic feature. A portion of the black band serves as a lens cap for the camera module. Moreover, when one opens the lens cap, the unit switches automatically to camera mode. So, the lens cap in essence accentuates the presence of the camera module otherwise not distinct on the surface of the unit.

A [The designer, Soichi Tanaka]: To accomplish this ``neither the front nor the rear sides'' concept, we also employ the use of logos to indicate the respective role of the face of the unit. The face that features the music aspect bears the blue Hi-MD logo whereas the picture aspect bears the print of Hi-MD Photo. In addition, descriptive print was left to its minimal on the side. Because this is our first attempt with the concept, there was a fairly lengthy discussion as to which icon to use. (S. Tanaka laughing) As a result, both sides of the unit bear a new diamond cut logo of Sony which is its first in the history of Walkman.

Early design concept of 2004 model. Camera position and the like are subtly different, but the design concept is nearly the same as the finished product
Progression from mock-up to finished product

We would like our customer to enjoy the new world of music.
Q Finally, what message would you like to leave for the consumers?

A [Product planner, Hirasawa]: The MZ-DH10P Walkman is something which had evolved from just a unit that enjoys music to include the ability to view pictures. This evolution begins with the advent of music transfer via the use the personal computer, which now has expanded to include the ability to transfer and set pictures as the jacket of the album via SonicStage. Additionally, music purchased through the online music store, Mora will include jacket picture automatically. Since the unit now incorporates the ability to utilize music and picture, we would like you to maximize the use of music and picture with the new Walkman.

A [The designer, Soichi Tanaka]: The functionality of the unit is uncomplicated and its respective operative buttons around the new UI of the OLED only requires minimum learning curve. This new advancement of the MZ-DH10P's UI was made possible by the current external flash memory. But of course, new revision of the firmware will be available even though I think that the current version already provides an UI that is relatively easy to use with the MD.

While navigating thru the music database with the MZ-DH10P, you get to enjoy album jackets by using the slide show option since the new Hi-MD Photo utilizes music and picture. Another great thing about this Hi-MD Walkman is that you can also show and share your pictures taken with the Hi-MD Walkman with friends (slide shows). Another aim of the MZ-DH10P is that it aims to appeal to the female users as much as it appeals to the male users by the combination of music and pictures.

A [The Project Design Leader, Akira Tanaka]: I think it is difficult for one to view what is considered to be the regular usage of this MD and the user should discover it for him or herself as to what his or her preference is. In addition, since the design of the unit has a unique texture, I would like the user to imagine the unit being an ideal companion for various type of environment.