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Ultimate Ears Mixtape

Ultimate Ears approached NONOBJECT to help envision what’s next for their hit Bluetooth speaker line-up. Inspired by the go-anywhere ability of their speakers, we designed a way for them to function without phones.

Role: Lead Designer
Contributions: UX, Industrial Design
Team: 1 lead, 2 designers


What’s a Bluetooth Speaker Without the Phone? 

UE’s speakers were so durable, their users brought them where no other devices have gone.

These places might be unkind to your fragile all-glass iPhone, or have no cellular connectivity. You might be out in the wild for days on end.

Without a phone or your streaming service, the speakers could not do the one thing they were designed to do.

Having to interact with your phone while you’re outdoors trying to enjoy yourself adds friction to the experience. For a product designed to outlast your phone in durability and battery life, I wanted to help the speakers break free from that ball and chain.


Components, Feasibility, Value

While I was ideating, I spoke with UE’s engineers and found out the speakers had 1GB or more of flash memory on their main boards that were currently (under)used for things such as firmware updates.
It reminded me of Creative’s Travelsound products, were you could add an iPod to your speaker or vice versa.

With modern tech, we could get the same functionality without the hacky 2-part product!

I started looking up APIs from popular streaming services like Spotify and found that we could save tracks from these services offline and access them as long as the user authorises the device for access.


UX Flow

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


Final Design

Our focus for this feature was simplicity; we created a sub-section in the UE app where the user can sync or unsync playlists in their library. Everything else related to their music subscription, such as editing playlists, should be done in that music app.



While our vision for this feature was implemented differently by the client, the Magic Button on the Boom 3 and Megaboom 3 was generally well-received. “One touch to your music” became a marketing tagline for these new speakers.

Products like the Pebble Core, iPod Shuffle-esque device that streamed from Spotify via 3G...
and the cheaper, Wi-Fi only Mighty were launched successfully on Kickstarter. The Pebble Core never made it past Pebble’s bankruptcy, but the Mighty has a cult following that demonstrated the need for a product like this.