Microsoft EKM Mouse | PDD

Design ensures entry-level mouse roars

When Microsoft planned to introduce an entry-level mouse to Asia, the company approached PDD’s Hong Kong studio for design assistance and a local perspective on market trends and consumer behavior. PDD needed to create a standout product that reflected the technology giant’s brand heritage, in a sector already crammed with countless no-name competitors.

Given the market positioning, the team had to minimise production costs. This meant that any uniqueness in the design had to derive from the form factors, not the choice of materials. In effect, the designers had only three injection-molded housing parts to work with – and the assembling process had to be as simple as possible.

PDD overcame the challenge of finding the perfect size and form for the Asian market, even though the countries have different expectations regarding colour, materials and finish (CMF). This also ensured that Microsoft could maintain the ergonomics across all markets and potentially launch the product beyond the Far East.

PDD tackled these issues by using local market insights as a starting point for the initial sketches and CAD phases of the development. The team then perfected the design language and form through various rounds of mock-ups that generated iterative user feedback. This process turned a hand-sculptured geometric form into precise digital data that captured the right look and feel, and which the manufacturers could produce easily and cost-effectively.

One way of judging the roaring success of Microsoft’s EKM mouse is to count the rivals now using the same form-factors in their products. PDD’s original design has become ubiquitous, while still reflecting an ability to apply local insights and user interactions to the creation of a unique product.