by Zohra KhanOct 05, 2022
What happens when a brand recognised for its reliable, world-class production of musical instruments and motorcycle heritage conceptualises a PC mouse? A bold, bizarre, and intangible object dubbed Two Yamahas, One Passion, a joint endeavour by Yamaha and Yamaha Motor, where the inspiration of the versatile brand’s wind instruments and vehicular engines stays apparent.
The two distinct companies remain united under the bigger Yamaha conglomerate, and their collective endeavour reflects their respective approaches and routes of thinking and designing, centred on one project. The computer mouse, one of the most “ubiquitous digital devices of our time”, was reanimated with Yamaha’s unique perspectives, “such as the exhilaration of playing a musical instrument or what it feels like to cut through the wind on a motorcycle,” the Japanese brand relays. Each of the two Yamaha divisions came up with a distinct shape and function, resulting in the creation of two unique mouse designs, one resembling a golden French trombone (or an acoustic guitar), and the other, a scaled-down version of a Yamaha superbike engine.
Bearing semblance to a wind instrument, the first conceptual design is unsettling and beautiful at the same time, created in favour of achieving a shape that expresses “the flow of electrons on a printed circuit board in a way that can be shown visually,” says Yamaha Design Lab. The internal workings of the brass mouse are kept exposed to visually grasp the flow of electrons by means of the adopted pipe-y structure. The exposed mouse thus essentially helps convey the processing going on inside the structure in an intuitive way. But the question of where one would rest their palm remained omnipresent still.
"The board sends instructions by electrical signals and the flow of electrons is basically in one direction, from the negative pole to the positive pole, even though there are branch points. So, it is often compared to the flow of water. A wind instrument can be likened to water, in that it produces sound by controlling the amount of air flowing through the pipes as well. And this is where the similarities between the circuit board and the wind instrument can be found,” they continue.
With ergonomic brown touchpoints placed on its sides, the heart of the golden device is at ease, whereas signals of clicking and scrolling are integrated into the image sensor section. From here, a single tube snakes its way around the mouse’s body to its tip, from where commands can be sent out. The right and left clicks are positioned and shaped as piston valves, with coffee brown flattops, recreating the tactile sensation of a click, allowing electrical signals to be transmitted as if pushing air. "It has a feel of an analogue tool, the click being like a piston valve pushing the air out,” they add. It comes as no surprise that this concept was conceived by one of the instrument designers at Yamaha.
"The mouse pointer speed, number of scrolls, click intervals, and other functions originally set through the operating system of the PC can be adjusted on instinct, like tuning a musical instrument, by having them as physical dial knobs on the mouse itself. Digital devices become warm, analogue tools like musical instruments, give us pleasure from operating them,” the designers relay.
“Rugged and tough”, the dynamic second mouse reminds one of a gamer’s with its bulkier, vehicular frame and stormy grey, edged body with silver accents, inspired by the Yamaha Motor motorcycle. “By redesigning the monocoque structure of the mouse, which is normally associated with consumer electronics, into a combination of a frame and exterior structure, we transformed it into a vehicle-like form,” says Yamaha. The resulting design comprises varied elements, which like their automotive design, is underscored by “a sense of dynamics as a whole”.
The assembly of electronic components are placed in the centre of the computer accessory - a play on the heart of a vehicle - the engine, fronted by a Yamaha badge. A “human-machine sensuality” was expressed in this attempt, which is essentially about the relationship between people and tools, in the tangible parts of the mouse as well as the feel of its operation. “You will feel like you are controlling a vehicle while working with your computer!” they say.
The clicking draws from a gas pedal of a personal watercraft (jet ski) or an all-terrain vehicle and is designed to have a lever-type shape and a similar movement. The scrolling is performed by pressing and holding the left and right clicks while holding down the thumb button, akin to the operation of a motorcycle clutch. “This is a unique rebooted mouse design that was based on Yamaha Motor's design philosophy,” the brand reiterates while expressing no intent of commercialising these imaginative designs.
It is difficult to attach functionality or purpose to such captivating, out-of-the-box concepts, but the brand delivers what it promises with these designs – a neat attempt at acknowledging its global heritage and esteemed products.