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The importance of professional users

Yusuke Sakamoto
Product Engineering Department

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What is the Cintiq series?

The Cintiq series is an LCD pen tablet for professional creators. Feel as if you are immersed in the world of graphics as you draw directly onto the screen. In August of this year the Cintiq Companion professional creative tablet was also added to the lineup. The Cintiq series is our flagship model that has repeatedly enhanced its "one-step" performance and functions with each new release. As project manager, I was involved in the planning, development, production and management of these Cintiq series.

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What is product management?

You have very little time to work with when building a new model in a product series. Of course it depends on the project, but we were given six months for the product development of the latest Cintiq model. During that period, we designed the product, finished its external design and the functional side of things, made preparations for mass production and released the new product. Honestly speaking, it is really tough to do that amount of work in this short period, but the job of ensuring that all of that is somehow completed within the allotted time span is what product management is about.

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A product designed for drawing

The Cintiq series is a product aimed at professionals, so no compromise about anything is allowed. Moreover, the combination of an LCD monitor with a pen tablet is a unique concept. In order to ensure that this sort of product evolves into something even better, we focus not just on the core mechanistic elements, such as the CPU and the IC chip, but also on the comfort and convenience of prolonged drawing.For example, we go into great detail about things like identifying the functions that would reduce the user's workload, deciding what sort of LCD monitor is easiest on the eye and finding the right level of texture in the glass.

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Cintiq, meeting fastidious requirements

These sorts of small details can have a really big impact on the durability of the product. If you speak to users of the Cintiq series, you find that there are lots of people who spend most of the day using their Cintiq. In which case the product's durability and comfort of use will significantly affect its efficiency at work and the impression it gives. Heat generation is a good example. In recent Cintiq models, we have reduced heat generation as much as possible in order to make working for long periods more comfortable. The pen's tactile writing sensation, the LCD monitor's color production and the button's pushability have all been optimized for long periods of use as well as for performance. These sorts of things really depend on people's own personal feelings, so it is extremely difficult to quantify and improve them. This is why we need to listen to lots of customers and draw on our extensive experience in order to optimize the product and spend a huge amount of time and effort in order to improve it.

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Aiming for better product development

However, time for development is obviously limited.The creation of one new product involves various people from various positions. For example, you need people to sell the product, to develop the product, to build the product and so on. Of course, everyone has their own strong ideas about the product, so you end up with various opinions on the table. If you listened to all the opinions, you would never be able to get any product to the customer. Our job as managers is to consider everyone's position, find a balance and then build the product on schedule... In other words, we sometimes have to be hardhearted (laughs). Although I don't think I'm that unpopular at work (laughs).

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The different concepts in the Cintiq series

The first thing that you do during product development is product planning. The products in the Cintiq series each have their own different concept. We need to decide what sort of users each product is aimed at and what parts need to be changed in what way because of that. For example, we decided to give the latest Cintiq 13HD a removable stand so that it could support a wide range of creative work. The Cintiq 22HD and Cintiq 22HD touch both have a rotating stand that allows the screen to be viewed from all angles. The Cintiq 24HD and Cintiq 24HD touch are fitted with a new generation stand that reduces the strain of extended use by allowing users to adjust the angle and height of the screen and to bring the tablet closer to them. The Cintiq 22HD touch and Cintiq 24HD touch have a multi touch function that allows more intuitive operation.

A new standard

Cintiq Companion

Consisting of two models,the Cintiq Companion series retains the functions of the Cintiq 13HD with the addition of a multitouch function and aims to further enhance the efficiency of creative work. Running on an Android OS, the Cintiq Companion Hybrid enables rough sketching away from the office. Fitted with Windows 8, the Cintiq Companion allows you to do creative work in the same environment anywhere at any time. The development of this Companion series was a bit strange. Because it was a new type of product, there were various things that we didn't know until we tried them out on sample products during the production process, in particular things about its user-friendliness. Thanks to you, we are delighted that we have made professional creators and many other users happy, but our intention was to get a wider range of people using the products and to hear your opinions about it. It is a product with potential, so it may produce new uses that we have not seen before.

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Getting the product on the market - a tough journey!

Once the product plan has been decided, we then have to create specifications, devise an external design, prepare drawings, check the internal mechanisms and build mockups, molds and samples.Each of these processes is assessed by their respective managers, each with their own distinctive perspective. This was really tough, with a lot of disputes (laughs). Rigorous checks are performed right up to the moment that production finally starts on the factory line. Even when the product has been released, you really can't slacken your concentration until you get feedback from the market. Problems can appear from all sorts of unexpected quarters. It is only when you hear the reactions of happy customers that you can relax and feel good about the product.When you look back on it, it really is a story of blood, sweat and tears each time.

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Responding to the expectations of professional users

My involvement in project management for the Cintiq series made me realize the importance of the professional users who use this product. I think that Cintiq is an important platform that allows them to create their valuable works. In recognition of their importance, we want to repay their trust and do absolutely possible to improve the product's performance and functions and to ensure that it is easy for them to use. My own personal view is that it is this fastidiousness and passion to please that defines Wacom. So, I think we need to push ourselves even harder in the future. Of course, I don't mind if this makes me unpopular at work (laughs).

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