Project Horizon

1983 was a very significant year for humanity for two reasons; I was born, and Yamaha released the legendary DX7 - the synthesiser that defined the sound of the 80s. You may not have heard of the DX7 but you have surely heard the DX7 as it featured on nearly every pop record you can think of from that era, from “Pappa Don’t Preach” to “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”, and the entirety of the Tog Gun soundtrack! All classics (I’m sure you’ll agree…), but by the end of the 80s barely a note was heard from the DX7.

The reason for this was quite simple; users never progressed beyond the instantly recognisable presets, and the world quickly tired of hearing them. You see, the DX7 famously had the worst interface of any keyboard created before or since – it was simply impossible to program. As a synthesizer it was actually capable of far more than people gave it credit for but when faced with the DX7, musicians had two choices; put your music career on hold for the rest of the decade while you learned to program the thing or stick with the presets. And stick to the presets they did!

When Apple released the iPad, their then Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive stated that the thing he was most proud of was what the iPad didn’t do. By forgoing all but the essential functionality, Apple had made the iPad industry-definingly intuitive, user friendly and quick to learn. The antithesis of not only the DX7, but also most computing up to that point.

The enormous challenge our product team have faced when designing the Project Horizon platform is striking the balance between creating an intuitive and user-friendly interface and, unlike the iPad, ensuring that no power or functionality is sacrificed in order to achieve this.

We have now issued logins to the Project Horizon sandbox to a select committee of long-standing users of K-12 Teaching, Learning and School Management software. Over the coming weeks we will be asking them to poke, prod and pressure test our new platform with a view to establishing how close we are to achieving the goal of offering an intuitive experience and supporting powerful functionality. Having been using the product myself for the past couple of months I feel confident that what we will ultimately deliver will be a powerful yet user-friendly platform, ready to support our schools for years to come.

More to follow next week!

Tom BeardsworthEducation Horizons Group, Product Marketing Lead