When Austin-based Zebra Imaging landed an exciting opportunity to co-launch their hologram technology with Disney’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, they quickly set out to create a consumer-friendly, franchise-themed hologram display system. To do this, they first needed to miniaturize their existing hologram lighting infrastructure which was originally created for large-scale government and business imaging applications. While Zebra focused on developing the hologram image content, they partnered with M3 Design to design and productize the display stand, hologram base plates and product packaging on an aggressive 2-month schedule.
M3 worked closely with Zebra to design the bottom-lit display stand that serves as a customizable, zero-maintenance, and transportable illumination platform. Utilizing an accelerated 3-phase approach, M3 prescribed the strategic framework that balanced functional, user, and brand requirements to serve as a solid foundation to rapidly explore product and packaging concepts. This process helped contextualize the product architecture and enabled Zebra to quickly make objective decisions about highly subjective product elements. Once the architecture was stable, the M3 team focused its exploration of experiential product elements and tuned the aesthetic response to reflect the strategy. Finally, the M3 team rapidly created the electro-mechanical and thermal designs required for rapid supply chain ramp-up and supported Zebra through the pilot-production process.
Ultimately M3’s collaboration with Zebra Imaging transformed a highly specialized technology into a scalable consumer product capable of adapting to multiple sales and distribution channels with minimal downstream investment. This transformation created an entirely new market opportunity for Zebra Imaging well ahead of any competitors. While the Star Wars holograms are the entry point for this technology in the consumer world, this design and technology are indicators that signal a future we've only seen on the silver screen; bringing us all one step closer to having the ability to perceive real 3D holographic content with nothing more than our own eyes– no clunky VR goggles required.
Strategy The M3 team worked closely with Zebra personnel to quickly visualize various product and packaging architectures that balance key visual brand attributes and user features to inform the concept development effort.
Concept Building from the framework established in the strategy phase, M3 quickly built a proof of concept prototype which housed the key components. This served as a chassis used to build the ID and electrical concept around. While Zebra worked with Disney to create hologram content, the M3 team rapidly iterated around the chassis design to create the product solution.