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Ultimate Ears Block Party 2

Ultimate Ears approached NONOBJECT to help envision what’s next for their hit Bluetooth speaker line-up. We proposed updates to their existing product UX.

Role: Lead Designer
Contributions: Industrial Design, UX
Team: 1 designer


Block Party Makes Music Social

Block Party is an app-enabled feature on Ultimate Ear’s speakers that allows for music input from 3 different users.

It is a rather buggy Bluetooth hack where the Boom app alternates the speaker’s connection between the 3 devices after each song.

Despite coming off unpolished, BOOM owners appreciated the ability to control whose music is playing, see what songs are coming up next, and control the volume of the device regardless of whose music was playing. I felt that our team could make the feature better to add value to the speakers.


Improving Usability and Engagement

After studying reviews and user feedback collected by UE, I realised that we needed to make the UX:
  • more inclusive and engaging 
  • while lowering the barrier to entry for guest users.

Clockwise, from top left: If the owner is playing Bieber and you’re a hater, don’t bother fighting with him for control! He can send you a URL so you can vote on what’s playing!
This version of Block Party would be: 
  • free from the limitations of Bluetooth
  • would not require guests to download an app
  • would not require guests to have their own streaming subscriptions
It would also be more fun and engaging with it’s voting system.


Feasibility, Architecture, Evaluation

I followed our initial work by carrying out a quick prior-art research to evaluate what was on the market.

We found at least two apps (Party DJ and QCast, as of 2015) that offered similar functionality in parts and tested them internally. It was fun to fight over what was on the office playlist, and we were able to verify that popular services like Spotify had APIs that allowed us to do what we’d wanted.

Next, we needed to define the network architecture required to implement this feature. We tried different permutations and combinations of connectivity and endpoints to ensure that Ultimate Ears can maintain the same UX across different scenarios.

Here’s what we came up with:

To ensure a consistent user experience, the Boom speaker would always play music from the host’s streaming service. If Wi-Fi is present, it will play from the web directly like a Sonos or Chromecast, but when outside, your phone takes over that task and becomes the bridge to the streaming service.


UX Flow

Here’s the UX flow for Block Party within the new version of the UE app I designed for our client.


Final Designs


Delivering Joy to Users Beyond the Ordinary

The opportunity to work on all aspects of their speaker line-up really defined my process as a designer who saw no divide between physical and digital experiences.

It is precisely this thought process that defines UE’s success in the market, with positive reviews for not just the physical design and sound quality of their speakers, but also the company’s continued commitment to adding features through updates for their products.