Project Leto

Microsoft Windows Phone, Kodak, LG

Leto was a Microsoft-led collaboration between Kodak Consumer Products and LG Electronics, to explore the concept of bringing high-end photography to the smartphone market (circa 2012).

Envisioned as a showcase product, bringing state of the art imaging technology (provided by Kodak R&D), together with a best-in-class LTE smartphone, and powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, Leto unfortunately fell victim to changing product strategies.

This still provided me with one of the most interesting design challenges of my career: build the bridges between three different companies each with differing design philosophies, cultures, and product goals‐ to ultimately find common ground in a shared vision, and uncompromising user-first approach.

Challenge

  • Design a visionary “hero phone” that represents the high-end potential of the Windows Phone OS, while invigorating the brands of Kodak and LG Electronics. Vertically integrate best-in-class hardware with software that balances the principles of the Metro/Modern Design Language and the sensibilities of LG and Kodak.

Approach

  • Lead several, week-long design workshops with partners in Microsoft, LG, and Kodak to identify and/or define the design principles of each each group. Bring user-centric design thinking to the process (including personas, storyboards, and consumer interviews) to establish product pillars. Marry these pillars with the capabilities of each partner, to synthesize a common direction, while helping bridge the philosophical gaps between the teams. For envisioning and prototyping, lead design of the core photography application and hub, basing it off of Kodak’s history of simplifying the photo process — “Easy as 1-2-3.”

Success

  • Leto accomplished its goals of showing the potential for the Windows Phone platform, helped LG Electronics see the need to reinvest in the OS, and gave Kodak new ways of thinking about their brand in a world consumed by smart phones. Additionally, I was able to build common language amidst three very different cultures, and help them recognize the power of user-centered design process.
  • While this formative work was ahead of its time, it ultimately led to the Android‐powered Ektra, wholly developed by Kodak.

Role

  • Product Owner
  • Design Lead