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Design Story: Sony WF-SP700N / WI-SP600N / WI-SP500

"Holistic Wellness": A new value system 

Take a look around, and chances are you’ll see signs of a growing trend: from yoga to fitness and the whole athletic realm, more and more people are making personal health a bigger part of their lives. With that emerging mode of day-to-day living also come new needs—including a niche for music experiences that fit the health-conscious mold. That’s the space that Sony aimed to fill with its latest lineup of wireless stereo headsets, devices that harmonize with the new value system of "Holistic Wellness."

Scoring the soundtrack to new lifestyles

For today’s generation, good lifestyles are all about balance—harmonizing mental well-being with physical health through sports and other activities. To get deep, firsthand insights into that changing milieu, designers headed to Europe, Asia, and other locales for investigative research and interviews with millennial influencers.

What they found were new lifestyles that weave wellness into everything: regimens of physical activity, be it yoga, fitness, or sports, and a pronounced focus on organic food preferences, proper sleeping rhythms, and other healthy habits. They found an ongoing shift in the popular perception of sports, too. Instead of picturing sports as a solo endeavor, a stoic ritual of individual training, people are seeing sports as more of a fun, enjoyable group activity with both physical and mental payoffs. The "Holistic Wellness" concept materialized in that context, informing the design of a wireless stereo headset for the latest lifestyle trends.

A lifestyle you can see: Making the concept real

In giving the new "Holistic Wellness" concept a visual identity, the designers moved beyond capturing a stoic, isolated mentality—the traditional image of "sports"—to bring in a visualization of the actual lifestyle at the roots of the product. The graphics they came up with foregrounded that dimension, featuring people doing yoga together, sitting down for an organic meal, and highlighting other elements of a natural, sophisticated way of life.

The team also brought the group-sports component into showcasing the product’s ambient sound mode, which lets users hear their surroundings while they listen to music. By highlighting that sense of togetherness, the communication design gives potential users a real, immediate understanding of the experience value that the product can unlock.

The perfect fit—in more ways than one

The whole basis for the product design was the health-conscious lifestyle of our target user base. For starters, the design team went with an organic shape with a comfortable, effortless fit, which would expand the product’s range past just a simple “workout” headset and align better with new lifestyles, as well. Another key point was the product’s functionality as a sportswear device, a facet that the designers accentuated by waterproofing the device, applying a dirt-resistant top coating, and condensing an array of easy-access, practical features into a minimal form.

The first model in the lineup is WF-SP700N, a wireless device with an organic shape that makes for an incredible fit. Overhauling the internal structure, the team kept the overall profile to a minimum and gave the product such an unobtrusive physical presence that the earpieces almost feel like part of the user’s body. The horizontal lines in a two-tone color scheme not only play into the device’s aesthetic appeal, adding a sleek, sporty flair, but also help the user orient the earpieces in the right configuration. The organic look extends to the case, too, which the user can open with just one hand for quick, convenient access. 

The noise-canceling WI-SP600N model features a three-dimensional cable connector, which naturally directs the cables back around the user’s neck—a setup that’s optimal for running and other activities. Rounding out the lineup is the WI-SP500, an open-type headset that ensures maximum stability during physical activity with its grip-like texturing on the in-ear bulbs.

Natural colors, blending seamlessly into the tapestry of everyday life

With healthy, organic lifestyles at the core of the target user segment, the design team opted for a nature-driven color scheme that humanizes the technology. Instead of using the bright, bold colors common in traditional sports-oriented devices, the designers came up with a new concept—"Shifted Tone"—that creates unexpected color combinations to create natural looks with energetic, modern undercurrents. The colors are fitting visual cues for a comfort-rich, lifestyle-minded music experience, simultaneously exuding a sporty vibe and boasting the aesthetic versatility to mesh with every facet of daily life.

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