Usually, our clients first launch a product and later follow up with a complementary app. With Fing, the order was the opposite. The start-up already had an app that watches over your network to detect intruders, block devices and analyze the quality of your Wi-Fi and Internet connection, along with a user base. However, they realized that they would be able to get better data and additional functionalities with a physical object.
The team tasked us with helping them create a device that gathers data to secure networks and provide Internet troubleshooting. We designed a device that stands out from the cable chaos and communicates with its users in a simple, intuitive way. Our experienced team of product designers and engineers supported the Fing team with product development, from the initial idea all the way to the final product.
While Fingbox was initially supposed to be just a passive data collection device, our intuition said that it could more. As designers, we started with the final users. There’s an immense network of connections occurring in modern homes equipped with smart devices. We wanted to create an object that gives the users a way to understand the status easily, and to not worry about it, even if behind the simplicity lies complex network technology. Only then would it truly become a valuable physical extension of the digital service.
The Fing team listed the project on the Indiegogo platform early on for crowd-sourced funding, sharing photos and updates on their blog throughout the entire campaign. The feedback from the community was overwhelmingly positive, with funders particularly keen on the rotating lighting design. This feedback confirmed our hunch about the need for the product to communicate. Fingbox went on to reach 1744% of its funding goals in record time.
How do you create an object that communicates with its users if there are no buttons nor displays? We chose innovative lighting design. Since we are bombarded by so many blinking lights every day, we created a simple yet emotional language—based on calm, color-coded light that spins around the center of the object in a dynamic motion—to effectively communicate messages to end users of the Fingbox device. The messages are intuitive and clear, yet the device uses just six LEDs. For example, a red light immediately signals to users that something on the network is going wrong.
Fing already had printed circuit boards with positioned LEDs, which meant that we couldn’t change the layout of the lights while trying to reach the desired effect of a continuous light ring with fading color changes. Working within this constraint, we started with a simple optic design and searched for the optimal curves, creating 3D models and some 20 simulations to visualize the different effects.
Even if the Fingbox is usually out of sight since the accompanying app serves as the main interface, we wanted to give the device its own iconic identity. We wanted to create an object that you would actually want to have in your home. Products like these are often nearly invisible, anonymous boxes. We wanted to create something more than that.
The device manages the Internet and objects connected to the net. As homes get smarter with the age of the Internet of Things, the devices linked to the Fingbox are many. Our designers created a simple and elegant round device, symbolic of the possibility of having an infinite number of objects connected to it. Fingbox is a hub that gathers all of them in one spot – almost like the hub of a wheel where all the spokes connect. The idea of the software is that it protects your home network from outside intruders. The physical product reflects this, with the technological core being protected by a robust case. We used the company’s blue color to reinforce the brand, to make the object stand out, and to be identifiable.
We followed the project from design all the way through to mass production. By employing the same PCB used for other products by the Fing team, we ensured cost efficiency for the client. In addition to prototyping and engineering, we kept an ongoing dialogue with the Fing team, sharing ideas and information to keep the momentum rolling and accelerate progress on the project. Because the Indiegogo funding campaign promised delivery of the Fingbox by a certain date, there was additional pressure on our team to stick to an aggressive product development schedule.
The DGI and Fing teams truly joined forces for the Fingbox project, acting more like partners than customer and consultant. Fing trusted us to make the right decisions and lead them through the process of developing a physical product, since they are a software company and unaccustomed to creating physical products. As engineering requirements forced changes to the design of the product, we adapted the design. We also negotiated on Fing’s behalf between lighting designers and suppliers to achieve the desired results for the Fingbox.
The resulting product boasts a simple design and an innovative lighting design that communicates with its users in an intuitive way. The Fingbox is now on the market, and has already been shipped to its early backers who raised 1,744% of the Indiegogo campaign’s funding target in record time. It was also included in the prestigious ADI Design Index 2017, awarded by ADI, the Italian association for industrial design.