Quirky Nimbus: Unboxing

With an interaction challenge so similar to my thesis, I had to pick up a Quirky Nimbus to see what it’s like. The box arrived quickly and was nicely printed, clearly boasting the ‘inventor-ness’ of the product. The packaging was adorable and made from high quality materials- clearly professional and inviting. The little owl graphic was even a nice touch – it was playful – much more fun than opening a normal appliance.

When I opened the package I almost gasped- it was much smaller than I had pictured it. However, this smaller profile is better- I don’t want this thing taking up my ENTIRE nightstand. The vacuum molded packaging perfectly cradled and protected the product. The power cord came wrapped in a nicely weighted cardboard box, which also donned the directions for setup. That power cord came with a sticker with “Quirky” printed on it — a nice feature. I hate it when a company leaves it up to the consumer to label their power cord – how are you supposed to remember what goes with what? I wonder — if you have more than one Quirky product, does the same adapter power all of them?

The instructions were clear – I like that the packaging directed you right to your app store without making you visit their website first. The app then walks you thru the setup process. I also just enjoy the placement of their power plug.

There is a small house on the device that acts as a notification LED and a sensor for pairing. You place your phone screen over this house and it flashes the screen in a crazy pattern of data to sync the two together! It was interesting that the instructions included a solution for a common error: If your device is blinking orange, do it again. Handy, because it didn’t work the first time— but at least I had a solution readily available.


The app then walks you through getting the Nimbus set up with your various internet accounts. The user has the opportunity to drag one service onto each “clock face” and then logs into their personal account. I logged into my twitter account (I was unimpressed because my account doesn’t get much action) then logged into my gmail account to get the calendar. I had two big problems with this:

  • First — I would have liked to set it to tell me the amount of time until a certain event —THESIS WEEK. But no, you can only have it tell you the time until the next event on your calendar. I guess that’s useful for an office desk, but it really doesn’t allow for catering to what you really care about.
  • Second — After closing the app I noticed that my gmail app had been logged out of my school account and logged into the personal account I logged into the Nimbus with! Why??? I didn’t acknowledge that this would happen— I want control over which accounts my apps are logged into —- separately!

The most confusing thing about this product is figuring out what the dials do. There is no reference point for start or finish, and each type of data is being displayed on a different scale with the same interface. For example, one message is about where 7 o’clock is. Once you look at the app and realize that the dial location corresponds to a tiny graphic depicting the type of scale you can finally make sense of it. IT’S JUST THAT I THOUGHT THE POINT OF THIS WAS THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOOK AT YOUR PHONE.  This product would be stronger without the dials. Or if they should exist, the display should cover the entire background so that it can illuminate markers onto the clock face to show the beginning and end of the dials.

The product also has some physical interaction similar to an alarm clock. There are tiny feet on the bottom that act like an apple trackpad – when the entire Nimbus is pressed down it’s like the whole product is a button. The Nimbus actually has two — one on each side so that, for example, you can press one side to make it dim and the other to make it brighter.

Overall, the out of box experience of this product was extraordinary. I felt supported the entire way through setup and never needed to google search for an answer. However, it’s when I got to appropriating the device into my life where there is room for improvement. The need to completely customize the data to the user (like setting a specific event in the calendar) or any other use that another person may find is key. It needs to be more flexible. And, I just can’t believe the un-usefullness of the “needle hands” — they just don’t make sense. With no “key” to their map, the information is cryptic and even distracting. If they don’t help you understand or interpret the information better than the text they accompany, than they are useless. Good Learn.


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