However, the new BALLO speaker goes against all tradition with its small spherical shape that looks more like the head of a microphone than a speaker. By plugging it into a smartphone, 
tablet device or laptop, it provides a powerful 360 degree music experience, despite its tiny size.

The BALLO speaker has been designed by the Swiss design studio Bernhard Burkard for the Hong Kong-based brand OYO – Objects You Obsess. It marks the first collaboration between OYO and the studio, which was founded in 2010 by industrial designers Fabian Bernhard and Thomas Burkard.

“It is very exciting to work for a brand like OYO,” says Burkard. “They are innovative and very passionate about producing good products. With their vast experience in high-quality production and knowledge of the marketplace, OYO is one of the hottest brands coming out of Hong Kong.”

The brief to Bernhard Burkard was very simply to design a portable speaker. There were no stringent design parameters to work within, giving the designers freedom to come up with a number of innovative concepts. This concept stage began with sketching various ideas and, as Burkard explains, this is a process that involves several phases. “We do individual sketching, discuss the concepts together with the client, 
do experiments and then some rough mock-ups to clarify the dimensions.”

Bernhard Burkard’s goal right from the start was for 
the design to be simple, elegant and unique. One of the concepts the designers proposed to the client was 
the idea of a sphere-shaped speaker, which they loved. The fact that there are no right-angles on the product and that it doesn’t require a stand opened up many new possibilities to them.

“Predominantly, there is no need for the speaker to 
be placed on a flat surface. It can lay down, roll or hang anywhere – on the grass, on a desk, in bed, on the kitchen shelves. It can be wherever people want to listen to their music,” says Burkard.

This creative solution to a speaker goes beyond mere styling, as it offers functional benefits too, which the designers discovered as they refined the concept. “The resonance of the underground surface is a big benefit and so is the optical behaviour of the ball, which is much more portable than regular speakers,” adds Burkard.

Following the concept stage, the designers modelled the BALLO speaker using CAD. This not only enabled them to check the proportions of the product, but also helped them to design for manufacture. In other words, ensuring that the product could be both produced and assembled easily.

“The factory side is also a very important issue in a design process. Reducing complexity during the CAD phase can make a product much more efficient, economical and sustainable,” says Burkard. “Our aim with all the products we design is to have as few parts as possible and to keep them as simple as possible.”

A full-scale model was produced to verify the design. 
Thereafter, as OYO has a wealth of manufacturing experience, it was not required that many further prototypes were made.

One of the unique design features Bernhard Burkard came up with in order to unite the two aluminium hemispheres together is an ABS plastic ‘belt’. “Tech-nically, it is the piece that connects all the parts,” explains Burkard. “Furthermore, it is where the speaker actually touches the surface. So, it not only protects the speaker but it increases the bass tones due to the resonance of the underground surface.”

Colour is always an emotive issue in any product 
design project and the decision to offer the belt in 
10 different colours was something that both Bernhard Burkard and OYO agreed upon together. “There are many reasons as to why we wanted to offer a wide range of colours but basically it means that everyone will be able to find one that suits them,” says Burkard.

During the design process, the designers worked closely with OYO’s engineers and development team in order to achieve the required acoustic quality from the speaker. “The quality does not reach a high-end music system but no one will really expect that for that 
size and price. But still it’s strong enough to fill a quiet 
room or to listen in the kitchen or outside,” says Burkard.

The product features a built-in rechargeable lithium battery, which is compatible with most audio devices, and can be easily recharged via USB. It plugs into the same 3.5 millimetre jack that a set of headphones go into and as soon as it’s plugged in, the sound comes on automatically and lasts for about six hours. If the user prefers stereo sound, they just connect two 
BALLOs via a stereo wire.

“What we like most about the design is that the speaker works with only one plug for both music input and recharging. This means that there is no need for any switch or other technical elements – it keeps the design very pure,” says Burkard.

The BALLO speaker is sold via OYO’s online store 
and so far feedback from customers and the trade press has been very favourable. “It is a solid, simple design that looks elegant and unique,” says Berkard. “Furthermore, it is absolutely affordable for everyone."

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