Published at 8/13/2019

Human-centered design meets smart features

With its latest launch unu and industrial designer Christian Zanzotti present a completely self-designed and developed product.

Product launch: the new unu Scooter

  • With its latest launch, Berlin-based mobility company unu presents a completely self-designed and developed product – the networked second generation unu Scooter
  • For the design of the scooter, the unu design team and industrial designer Christian Zanzotti put a special focus on human and accessible design elements in order to take the digital complexity out of the scooter's smart features
  • The new unu Scooter is already available at a reduced price as a pre-order and will be delivered to customers from spring 2020

Berlin, August 14th 2019

In international metropolises, the growing demand for urban mobility solutions is now countered by countless alternatives whose technological, safety and functional features cater to different target groups and whose aesthetics depend on the application scenario. Together with the Munich-based product designer Christian Zanzotti, the Berlin-based mobility company unu has manifested its own brand with all its values and personality in a new product to create the perfect companion for everyday city life.

Unbiased visions encounter experienced product design

Immediately after the launch of the unu Scooter Classic in 2015, the team around co-founder and CXO Elias Atahi started to collect first ideas for the second generation of the unu Scooter. With the first product based on an existing platform, the new scooter was to be designed in-house down to the last detail and thus become an honest expression of the unu brand. The top priority was to create a simple, accessible product that would make everyday life in the city easier and create openness for topics such as electric mobility and networking. The founders' plan, sometimes described as "positive-naive", to create a completely new product in-house, contained the challenge of conclusively combining development, technology and design. In 2017, the Aachenbased technology start-up PEM Motion came on board, followed by the renowned product designer Christian Zanzotti.

Human design that serves to solve problems

The industrial designer's late involvement throughout the development phase presented Christian Zanzotti with a major challenge: His first task was to unite the company's unfiltered ideas and initial approaches in a mobile prototype and then translate it into an aesthetically harmonious and industrially producible product. "With a focus on functional and aesthetic accessibility as well as simplicity in both hardware and software, we have applied clear design principles. In the end, there aren’t many options to design a scooter if these design principles are implemented unexcitedly. We don't see design as art, but as a tool to solve problems," says Elias Atahi.
Solutions for unchangeable specifications also had to be found: An extensive helmet compartment with enough space for batteries, helmets and supermarket shopping had to keep up with the storage space of larger automobiles and make the unu Scooter future-proof for sharing scenarios. Such applications also require break-resistant plastics and materials that feel less like automobiles and more like a digital product that can be embedded in everyday life, just like smartphones and other gadgets.
At the same time, the intuitive design should minimize digital complexity. With just three buttons, coupled with the user-friendly, haptic unu App, the scooter can be operated intuitively without prior knowledge or training. All product innovations had to be adapted to human models and needs in order to design the scooter as humanly as possible: From a minimalist charger, which itself becomes a design object and doesn’t have to be hidden at home and the LED front light of the scooter, modelled on the human eye, to a holder for vehicle documents integrated in the storage space.

The new unu Scooter as an honest expression of the brand

Finally, the creative duo also benefited from their professional background when it came to the compatibility of technology and product design. Elias Atahi had previously studied electrical engineering, only through unu did he get deeper into the field of design. On the other hand, Christian Zanzotti and his team are constantly confronted with new technologies in product development. Development partner PEM Motion contributed to the vehicle design so that the design team could concentrate on developing a product that’s durable and sustainable thanks to its restrained yet elegant design. A scooter that prioritizes unagitated component separation instead of appearing overstyled and loud. A companion that embodies honesty as its supreme credo and doesn't try to be more than it is: "Products today are no longer this huge statement. What makes them stand out is their functionality, service and handling. Product design and the beauty of a product lie in the naturalness of its functions – this is very well reflected in the new development of the scooter. The new unu Scooter is simply smart," says Christian Zanzotti.
The result of this design process, the new unu Scooter as an expression of the own brand, has been available to pre-order since May 2019 in three models and the colour versions Basic (Glossy Red, Glossy Blue), Standard (Matte Pine, Matte Sand, Matte Coral) and Premium (Matte White, Matte Black). Integrated into the new design, users benefit from innovative smart features such as key sharing, theft protection and integrated navigation, which for the first time enable a new usage model for urban mobility. The company's first own product design will also enable it to enter the international sharing market with the scooter this year and to continue their final product vision of an electric, networked, autonomous vehicle in the long term.

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