If you love the look, feel and touch of the new Xbox One controller, you can partly thank Andrews-Cooper.
The engineering firm with employees in Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington was selected by Microsoft as lead outside engineer on the two-year Xbox One controller project. “We were able to start from the very beginning and see the job through to the ultimate size, shape and feel,” explained Joe Harsany, VP of Product Engineering. “The product architecture and compressed schedule were very challenging – but very rewarding as well.”
“It was the ideal project. Microsoft is an amazing company,” Harsany said.
The Microsoft design team had several ideas they wanted to prototype. They relied on Andrews-Cooper to turn the industrial design concepts into functional prototypes. According to Harsany it was an iterative process. “We would develop a prototype, Microsoft would test with users, and we would build another prototype based on their feedback.” Once the final design was set, Andrews-Cooper dug into the details. “That was really a huge challenge,” said Harsany. “It’s like a game of Tetris. As we fit the individual pieces together all the air inside the device was used up.” The firm played an important role in defining the architecture, making sure all the bits and pieces could fit within the volume of the product, working with the contract manufacturers to get recommendations for manufacturability, and incorporating all of those considerations into the design. “The tolerancing on this product was really difficult. It had to be functional, but also look great, with flawless seams and no gaps. The devil is in the details. We needed a design that didn’t have a lot of issues during production in Asia.” Microsoft was manufacturing hundreds of thousands per week to meet the holiday demand.
“We were wondering when the manufacturer would call with a problem,” said Harsany. “The manager never got a phone call.”
Microsoft hired Andrews-Cooper because of their work with other high tech manufacturers. “They knew we had already proven ourselves on other projects,” Harsany explained. “It was a terrific project to be involved with.”