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Design Products (MA)

Tong Su

Tong Su is a London-based industrial designer born and raised in China.

After graduating with the product design degree, he is pursuing his MA in Design Products at the RCA. In his spare time, Tong travels across Europe with observations of design. In recent years, Tong Su primarily works on innovative interaction, especially on electronics and transportation.

Statement image

In the next ten years, augmented, virtual, and mixed reality will become the mainstream output.

The media-free, discreet interface would replace surface-based interaction on a phone or pad.

My project explores the possibility of input by a thumb-positioned sensor through experiments with a series of commands with different thumb gestures, such as scroll, click or press. Different scrolls are the micro-gesture I am focusing on, including up, down, right, left and more individual ways. 

Inertial Measurement Nail is an experimental practice to demonstrate new possible interactions between our hand and future output. The work is test-based, surrounded by prototype making, data visualisation, input calibration and product design. 

Inertial Measurement Nail 1
Inertial Measurement Nail 2
Context: Our opposable thumb & History of HCI 1
The opposition of the thumb is the ability to swing around and touch the other fingertips, which gives the hand its prehensile ability to encircle and grasp objects. This is considered to be one of the characteristics of an intelligent species. Nowadays, humans use their thumbs in a whole different way - to operate electronics. Operating devices share similar patterns, which are scrolls and taps. It is easy to track these patterns by monitoring the top surface of our thumb.
Context: Our opposable thumb & History of HCI 2
My design brief began with the study of HCI history and prediction from pioneers in the field.
Prototype 1
Prototype 1: Sensor and processor on gloveAfter the observation of finger motion, I aim to capture them precisely. In this prototype, I use the acceleration sensor to collect acceleration data and then analyse whether there is a fixed data when we scroll. I attached the sensor and Arduino board to a glove and connected them to the computer. Data is then collected and visualised by software.
Prototype 2
Prototype 2: Sensor fixture on thumbFollowing the first prototype, I changed the accelerometer to a more functional 6-axle sensor MPU6050 which can track roll, pitch and yaw. Then the biggest issue I had to solve is the attachment of the sensor. I utilise the holes on the sensor to fix on a 3D printing component with screws. Velcro goes through the component to attach the prototype to the nail of the thumb. Data including three axles acceleration and angular velocities can be collected well by the software.
Prototype 3
Prototype 3: Sensor with haptic feedbackAfter the second prototype, I added the haptic disc to the attachment to provide vibration feedback. To integrate the disc into the attachment, I designed a hollow cylindric cavity to place it. Different vibrations are well transferred to the thumb through velcro. However, it is hard to integrate the microcontrollers into the finger.
Prototype 4:  Thumb & wrist peripheral
Prototype 4: Thumb & wrist peripheralAt final stage, I designed another attachment with velcro to integrate another component onto the body. The whole prototype can now function as a peripheral of our wrist and hand. However, it still needs a wire to the computer for power and visualisation.
Prototype in developing: Additional sensor for arm tracking
Prototype in developing: Additional sensor for arm trackingTo track the motion of the thumb more precisely, I am developing to add a sensor on the wrist to filter the movement of the arm. As a result, thumb motion from arm movements will not trigger the sensor on the thumb. This is the foundation of an everyday wearable device that can function without mis-touching.
Launch Project
The Endless PrinterThis project focuses on physical interaction between us and the phone. Then I chose to scroll to dig in because it is the most symbolic interaction between us and the phone. The most addictive apps globally are social media like RED, TikTok and Instagram because operating them is very smooth. Just scroll, scroll and scroll down with some clicks. 
Then I realised I could capture this motion and materialise it another way. I use a distance sensor to monitor the thumb and build a piece of furniture for a smartphone. Scrolling phones will trigger interactions. It will reflect the main factors: the times, the length of motion about gesture, furthermore reflect our addiction behaviour in the space around us.
oCameraThis smart camera concept is designed for smartphone photographers who enjoy being more professional but don’t want to sacrifice their instantaneous social sharing. It simultaneously delivers high-quality images and interacts seamlessly with the smart device ecosystem. (2022)
DisposershipThis is a speculative experiment imagining the situation of paying for deposing in the alternative future. The project has five different scenarios around our daily life and conveys by the film at the end. (2022) * n. legal right of throwing away; obsoleteness.