From briefing to over 2 million production units for 80 worldwide concerts in 6 months
Crowd participation at concerts allows bands to involve their fans directly in the show, making the experience far more unique and memorable. In 2011, Hillside Product Design helped inventor Jason Regler and his project partners, rock band Coldplay, take the lighters-in-the-air moment to the next level by developing his product, the Xyloband.
Jason’s idea for the Xylobands (named after Coldplay’s fifth album, Mylo Xyloto) was for an LED wristband that would be worn at concerts and that would flash in time to the music by remote control from the sound desk. Coldplay had an album launch in Madrid, followed by a UK tour and a world tour lined up, totalling over 80 concerts in all between 26th October 2011 and 31st December 2012, for which they required in excess of 2 million wristbands.
Product Design Research
Hillside Product Design joined the development team to design the mechanical and aesthetic aspects of the product, liaising with third party electronics and radio engineers working on the PCB design. The first task was to put the project in context and understand the requirements of the project. This involved researching and mood-boarding all aspects of the product; including the technology that was going to be employed, the environment that the product would be used in, ergonomics and the user’s interaction with the product, and inspiration for styling.
Following discussions with the client and electronics designers, requirements for the internal components were established. This allowed the design team to start work on concepts for the wristband, sketching down ideas and preparing basic computer models for presentation and discussion with the client. Feedback gained from the results of the research stage helped to steer the concept generation process in the right direction from the start. A selection of ideas were then whittled down to a final concept to be taken on to the development stage.
With the initiation of the project in mid-August, the album launch in Madrid in October was too close to get the final wristband design developed, tested, manufactured and delivered in time. Instead, in order to meet this tight deadline, an interim product using proprietary components was designed and assembled, arriving in time for the show. At the allotted time during the gig the Xylobands were activated and lit up the audience in time with the music with spectacular effect. Coldplay fans were enthralled by the experience and a storm of media attention followed.
In the meantime, work was continuing on the design of the wristband that would be rolled out for the UK and World tours. The concept chosen from the initial design stage was being developed into fully detailed component and assembly models using CAD software. Periodically prototypes of different types would be built to test the design in the real world. The client was consulted at all stages of this process to ensure that they were happy with the design.
Product Review and Production
The fully-fledged design was developed and manufactured ready for the UK tour on 4th December. Production was staged for every following concert on a JIT basis direct with very little margin for error. Hillside Product Design was in constant communication with all members of the development and production team throughout this time, including a number of site visits overseas to ensure quality was delivered and to iron out any issues when they arose.
Product Design Results and Launch
Along with the eighty Coldplay stadium concerts (Youtube link), the Xylobands made appearances of note at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games and the 2012 X Factor finals, while also being used at many sporting and corporate events, festivals and private parties.
Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto tour ended in 2012, but Hillside Product Design’s work with Jason and his company was only just beginning, continuing to develop a range of new Xylobands products together. Since the original Xyloband project, a number of new wrist straps have been designed, incorporating new features to help them adapt to suit a broader range of applications. Alongside these have been handheld remote control devices, LED-lit beach-balls, lanyards and a number of other concept projects still in development.
The latest version of the Xyloband called the Audioband is now being deployed during Coldplay’s 2016 A Head Full of Dreams world tour. So it’s a case of doing it all over again.
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