Atlas Laptop for Education

Laptop port details, 3D render

Bak USA wanted to re-envision what a purpose-built laptop for education could be.

We had plenty of data from our customer experience and production departments. All of this was channeled into a design sprint that ignited a rapid two month design process.

There is an entire story about this design sprint. But that’s for a future blog post! Instead, I will walk you through a few of the design issues we tackled. First off, everyone loved the 180˚ degree rotating camera. But many students and teachers covered it with tape when not in use. Our solution was a sliding plastic cover. The grooves on the surrounding plate say “slide me” to communicate this feature.

Laptop in tent mode, camera with privacy slider, 3D render

Our current model had stickers or rubber feet covering the screws. This caused a lot of extra work for assembly and RMA (Return Merchandise Authorized). Since we assembled devices stateside, exposing these screws became a key DFM (Design for Manufacturing) rule. I wanted it to look purposeful and attractive. It’s really appreciated when you turn a device over and even the bottom is attractive.

Laptop carrying handle, 3D render

Unfortunately, our stylus drained pretty quickly. We ditched using two AAAA batteries in favor of a permanent battery. Where to store the stylus was always an issue. In the current model, the stylus was tethered to the device and slipped into a fabric loop. This was less than ideal. In some cases, students carried their laptop by holding the stylus!

Instead, we carved out a well above the keyboard. This doubled as the stylus’ charging port. That meant it would get charged whenever students weren’t using it. We were also considering a high spec version of the laptop for the professional market. So we upgraded the stylus with a clip and more premium materials for this market.

Stylus well for storage and charging, 3D render

A lot of time went into perfecting the keyboard design. Full arrow keys and a lock button became central features. There was some internal competition between round keys or square keys. So I designed both versions. Below are some of the color variations we explored.