“We’re longing for knobs to twiddle” — Here’s what bugs the Beats By Dre designer

Robert Brunner is the founder of design house Ammunition. He’s also the chief designer at Beats By Dre and, kicking off our Roadmap conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, he had many pearls of wisdom to drop.

Brunner clearly isn’t a fan of all things virtual –he said the best design now was bringing tech back into the real world, and he complained about the attention-deficit implications of everyone just staring at the four-inch screens they’re carrying around.

“Technology is starting to deprive us — it’s starting to change our lives in ways that aren’t that good,” he said. “We as designers and developers need to understand and address that because it’s becoming problematic. Tactility is coming back… We’re kind of longing for knobs and switches and things to twiddle. We’re moving away from this ubiquitous approach to interface.”

Brunner also hated on the limitations of battery life — unsurprisingly, for someone so deep in the wearables business. Speaking of wearables, he also made a really good point about the need for such technology to follow the rules of fashion.

He told an anecdote about how his partner, Interscope founder Jimmy Iovine, made people want to be part of the Beats By Dre “tribe” – Iovine took loads of pictures of famous pals like Justin Bieber wearing the headphones, and these images helped create the brand. Then Brunner contrasted this approach with that of Google and its Glass endeavor. Search for images of Google(s goog) Glass and what do you get? Anonymous models, interspersed with shots of Sergey Brin wearing the gear.

Point made.

Check out the rest of our Roadmap 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:
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A transcription of the video follows on the next page