To some companies, “design” means combining multiple functions in one piece of technology. Ricoh is different. We find out what our customers wish technology could do. Then we design the technology that does it.
In the name of design, some companies are packing more and more functions into one product. To Ricoh, that's not what it's about. For us, design starts with finding out what the customer really wants to be able to do -- even when that desire has never been expressed in so many words -- and translating this into new technology that changes the whole game. The way we see it, design is about tuning in to the way the world is changing, and offering solutions that make life easier at home and at work. At Ricoh, design goes beyond changing the shapes of things: it has the power to create a whole new future.
We listen to our customers. We find out how they really think, and why they act the way they do. Then we come up with better ways to get things done, at home and at work. To Ricoh, that's what design really means.
At Ricoh, we believe that design should consider the wishes of our customers all over the world, reflecting the unique features and values of every region. That's why we set up design bases in North America, Europe and China as well as in Japan. We use local designers. And as part of our design activities, we're also rolling out localization initiatives in many languages. Basing our concept-creation on market surveys, and evaluating our design models as we go, we're collaborating with our overseas design bases to establish a truly global design process. We find out what our customers really want, even before they know they want it. Then we translate that desire into tangible technology. It's an ongoing endeavor.
Let's look at some of Ricoh's design innovations. Take the recessed paper-output tray, for example. In old-fashioned printers and photocopiers, the paper output tray stuck out like a sore thumb. In our new MFPs, it's neatly positioned right inside the machine. This means it can accommodate larger paper sizes, up to the size of the MFP's own footprint. We started by redesigning the output tray. We ended up with a whole new breed of MFP.
Then there's the unique and revolutionary GXR interchangeable unit camera system released by Ricoh in 2009. We started with the idea of a camera unit incorporating not just the lens, but also the image sensor and image processing engine. We ended up with a completely new camera design. By doing away with the fixed lens, it redefines the compact camera. And by making the image sensor and the image-processing engine interchangeable, it also re-imagines the SLR.
In recent years, Ricoh has also focused on designing and developing applications and cloud-based services. These include our visual online storage service quanp, which enables users to store, share and use all kinds of data on the web, aided by an intuitive user interface. Another example is our iPhone app Whiteboard Share, which removes unwanted artifacts from the whiteboard images captured by the iPhone, making them easier to read and share. These are just a few of the ways in which Ricoh design is redefining the relationship between people and technology.
Ricoh's concept-based, user-driven product design has won accolades all over the world. In 2008, the GR DIGITAL II digital camera won a Good Design award in Japan. The same year, Ricoh's imagio Neo603RC/753RC Fast Digital Multi Function Peripheral was singled out for a Good Design Sustainable Design Award for its efficient use of resources and focus on quality. In Europe, Ricoh's GX100 and GXR digital cameras were gold winners in Germany's iF product design awards, which have now been running for more than 50 years.
Ricoh MFPs already deliver high productivity and user-friendliness. Moving beyond these goals, we now see our MFPs as tomorrow's “knowledge workstations”.
The modern office is changing. Many companies now see it as space for communication aimed at knowledge creation. Meetings these days are more fluid, informal events that can take place anywhere. Against this background, MFPs need to be reinvented as attractive workstations, fully equipped for handling data, and offering online connectivity.
By studying how our customers' offices really work, Ricoh has identified the need for an MFP that is also a “knowledge workstation”. We have already taken the first step towards making this vision a reality. In our next-generation MFP, the Aficio MP C400, released in Europe and the US, the operating panel has been rotated through 90°, moving from horizontal to vertical. Paving the way for the panel to function more like a screen, this opens up a whole new world of possibilities. The advanced MFP of the future, transforming the office and changing the way people work, is just around the corner.