Apr 23, 2019 Written by: Geoff_Gasior

Drive ahead - ROG partners with BMW Designworks Group to explore the future of gaming laptops

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The Republic of Gamers has relentlessly pushed the industry forward in pursuit of the best gaming experience, and we’re constantly looking ahead to what’s next. This search for inspiration led to the renowned creative minds at BMW Designworks Group and a partnership to imagine the future of gaming laptops. We collaborated to explore ideas for not only the next generation, but also the ones after that, culminating in a stunning concept that gives a glimpse of what’s to come.

Dubbed ROG Face Off, the design mockup reflects the fact that gamers have different personalities and often work as hard as they play. Its flowing lines and transformative traits chart a fresh path forward with themes that are possible to implement today, while a more forward-looking vision for projected UI elements explores what may be feasible tomorrow.

Plotting the path to the future

The project started almost a year ago with initial research at the ASUS Design Center in our Taipei headquarters. We studied the work and background of different creative firms and found the right fit with BMW Designworks Group, which has a 25-year history of helping companies stay on the cutting edge of design.

During an initial workshop to align our objectives and discuss ideas, we learned the methodology BMW Designworks Group uses to approach new automotive designs. Our team shared the unique limitations associated with laptops to communicate the practical challenges that we face with new projects.

ROG designers visited the Shanghai office of BMW Designworks Group early on to gain greater insight into their research methods. They also joined concept ideation and development sessions to provide input and better understand the process. Although we come from different industries, we share a similar design spirit and philosophy. Both sides learned a lot from the collaboration.

Brainstorming birthed multiple design directions based on the central theme that gamers have different motivations. Some seek victory above all else, while others want to be immersed in another world. Then there are those who play as part of a larger social desire to connect with friends and teammates. Gamers aren’t one dimensional, either; motivations can change based on the game, and many also use their machines for productivity, content creation, and 3D rendering.

Go with the flow

The final Face Off concept reflects the split personality inside all of us. The design layers elements to draw your eye across three levels, each with a different focus, going from the streamlined silhouette to surface sculpture and then finer details.

The sleek exterior has a focused and aggressive profile framed by futuristic lines. It feels fresh but unmistakably ROG, right down to offset slash and iconic logo emblazoned on the lid. The distinctive cut contrasts polished and matte surfaces that reinforce our existing aesthetic in a bold new way.

While ROG laptops typically stick to darker tones, the concept wears a silver coat tinted jade green. BMW Designworks Group chose the concept’s unique color to align with future design trends, an area where it has accumulated considerable expertise picking palettes for some of the hottest cars on the road. The lighter hue hints at another side of ROG with a brighter outlook than our stealthier styling.

Our designers love the flowing form of the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 motorcycle concept and wanted to bring some of the same feel to laptops. On the ROG Face Off concept, sets of progressive gills sweep across the back of the chassis and flank the sides of the keyboard. The gentle curves balance the laptop’s harder edges and instantly draw your attention while also providing functional ventilation. LEDs below generate a customizable glow that illuminates the raised ridges from within.

Additional interior lighting proudly highlights the motherboard, fans, and other components visible through the smoked X-ray panel above the keyboard. Over the years, several ROG laptops have incorporated windows that provide a view of the powerful hardware inside. This time we went further with a panoramic view of what’s under the hood, along with illuminated fans to make the internals look more dynamic when the system is in use.

Reach out and touch

Tactile surfaces play an important role in differentiating the keys to victory. The WASD cluster and left side of the space bar are covered by smooth metal skin that makes critical gaming controls immediately recognizable by touch alone. To satisfy gamers seeking more grip, we also designed a rubberized cover that fits over the WASD group.

A desire for more physical interaction also influenced the design of the power switch, which trades traditional buttons for a spring-loaded setup inspired by bolt-action mechanisms. This subtle mechanical movement can evoke a deeper physical connection with the machine than yet another a simple press. The switch initially protruded from the chassis and was even more bolt-like, but practical considerations prompted the shift to a more streamlined implementation.

Pulling the trigger powers on the system and activates an accompanying lighting effect that amplifies the awakening. RGB lighting also helps to define the concept’s dual personalities. It glows pure white in work mode, initially illuminating the entire laptop but quickly fading to just the keyboard to help maintain a lower profile. But in gaming mode it glows defiantly red, reinforcing a more aggressive attitude that suits the mood. These different looks reflect the fact that users not only have varied needs, but also frequently share their machine with friends and family.

Envision tomorrow

Although much of the ROG Face Off concept is technically feasible today, one aspect thinks further outside the box. Projection and tracking technology is advancing rapidly, and our vision imagines how it could be employed to augment your reality with virtual elements that rise up from the laptop and respond to gesture-based commands.

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Extending the interface into your environment has tantalizing potential for monitoring system performance, enhancing gameplay, and more deeply immersing you in another world. The possibilities for personalization are practically limitless, branching from the cosmetic customization enabled by RGB lighting to something far more powerful and interactive. We’re excited to see how laser projection and other augmented reality technologies develop and are eager to experiment with integrating them into future designs.

A taste of the future today

The final concept is far from a finished product, but our collaboration with BMW Designworks Group inspired ROG designers working on other projects. Our new Strix gaming laptops channel some of the same ideas, including raised ridges that race across the chassis and provide additional ventilation to improve airflow at the back. The offset cut-out under their displays leaves more room for airflow while also applying an asymmetrical accent reminiscent of another concept design we explored during the project.

The Strix SCAR III and Hero III incorporate the ROG Keystone, a physical device that docks with the laptop to reinforce your physical connection, and can trigger changes to lighting and system settings that match your personal preferences. Its development was driven by the same motivations that produced the concept’s spring-loaded switch and mode-specific lighting effects.

Despite focusing on giving a glimpse of the future of gaming laptops, the ROG Face Off concept and collaboration that created it have already inspired distinctive designs that are ready now.

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