Project Modai: Humanizing mobile devices [FINAL]

Hello all,

I just wrapped up Project Modai for the semester. You may remember the project from my process thread here: Project Modai: Process thread [FIN.]

It is with great pleasure that I present my senior project: a study on future mobile devices. I wanted to see how we can forge emotional bonds between user and electronic by drawing from human behaviors, and pushing the limits of mobile technology.

I built a kiosk out of foamcore for the show to display the boards, the models, and an an interactive web scenario (with UI animations) on an iPad.

Presentation boards
(view/download the PDF here: Project Modai: final by Julius Tarng - Issuu)
It’s hefty on the words, but I believe it is a good read and worth your time (many people just stood there at the show reading it). :smiley:For some reason, Core77 enlarges all of my images… these are only supposed to be 1100px wide.

Interactive web scenario
This was designed to be viewed on an iPad at my senior show (if you have one, please view it there!)

Final model
Recorded by a very tired me.

(My professor recorded a video of me giving a presentation at the kiosk, so I’ll try to see if I can get that up soon.)

I hope you enjoyed seeing my work! You can view the in-depth process work at (or at the previously mentioned Core77 thread). Thanks for viewing!

Looks awesome. Lots of depth to this project. Need to go over it again to fully get everything. But it looks very strong. I’m looking forward to seeing the presentation. I’ll try to re-visit this when I have more time and give you some better feedback. But looks fantastic.

Wow, congratulations on being done, awesome to follow the process and see it all come together at the end!

I read through most of it, I commend you on the copy. Usually design boards with this much text are rife with grammatical errors or just awkwardly phrased, but it was pretty painless to get through!

After reading through it all here are a couple of my thoughts:

With the muscle wire, because it’s such a big component of the overall “humanizing” concept, I would have liked to see a bit of discussion of the feasibility of the technology, at least from an energy consumption standpoint. Since the phone is spending a decent amount of it’s time propping itself up, I wonder what consequences that could have to battery performance. I’m assuming that while the wires are holding a bent position that they are still drawing energy from the battery? I think a little more discussion on the technology might help convince some skeptics since battery life is such an important factor for mobile devices.

The Modular internals is a great idea, but I feel like it could use a little more explanation. The way the components are presented they are these sort of monolithic, connector-less boxes, it looks almost too easy. I would like to see some indication of how they are attaching to one another. Is it some lego like connector, magnets, sliding channel connectors, etc. Right now it looks a little too simple for me to believe its feasibility.

The breadth of this project was HUGE so I totally understand that not every detail could be hammered out in the time frame, just thinking more from a how could you tweak this for your portfolio perspective.

Awesome work, your hard work is inspiring. Have you thought about what you will be doing in the winter for your next project?

Thanks Choto. I agree the technical aspects are a little foggy and man be one of the weaker points of this project. I guess I got carried away with designing something from the future. Thanks for your feedback! I’m glad you found my copy painless.

Not sure what my next project is. I have a list of things that I want to do, but I’m sure I will find something over break.

Sain- Thanks!

Congrats on finishing to such a high level of thoughtfulness and detail. There’s plenty of stuff to nit pick over, but this is a great showcase project. Thanks for sharing.

Julius, the process has been amazing. I love how you opened it up on the forums. The interaction model is really nice, and I think the UI fits that well. I feel like the best physical design was left on the cutting room floor though. You had some really nice early concepts that evoked the digital in a physical way that did not move forward… that said, I think some more premium CMF studies could help push it. The current CMF feels a bit flat to me, but not quite flat enough to make it Muji-cool. I think 10% more seasoning would really finish the meal, but maybe I need to see it in person.

I am largely knit-picking here. As Brett said, a fantastic showcase project.

Thanks Brett, yo. As I’ve “finished” the project a few days ago, I’ve had time to reflect on my process. Yo’s right: there were a lot of digital/physical concepts that didn’t really make the cut (probably because my mind was boggled and forgot)… CMF is indeed one of my softer points, and I’ve never really found any good resources to learn more about it.

My professor sent over the quickie presentation I did at the show. It’s by no means comprehensive, and a bit unintelligible at times from the background noises of people talking, but here it is:

Interesting project, but I don’t want my mobile,car,etc to have human factor; like muscles,heart,liver,etc. Gadgets for me must be useful and should look elegant.

Julius, if at all possible, you should try to get to CES in a couple weeks. It’s mostly junk, but there are a few gems here and there that you have to see and touch in person. CMF is one of those really tricky things that frequently make or break a project.

I would LOVE to go to CES, but I’m leaving to go back to school around that time… maybe when I graduate. Any tips for resources to learn CMF other than CES? I definitely gawk over objects everywhere, but you can never really tell exactly what material they use/what treatment to use… you sort of know what you want but you can’t spec it.


I have to go back to review all your process…but of now…THIS IS AMAZING. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

Although I will have been out of school three full years as of this coming June, I still feel as though it was just yesterday I was working on my senior project. I cannot imaging all the work you must have put into this program. I attempted to tackle a similar type of project…with much less success. I understand how difficult it is to put all of the pieces together. It can quickly become overwhelming, but your solution is clearly thought out and presented in a compelling and believable way. You should be VERY proud of the work.

Generally speaking, I think it is so very difficult for product design students to grasp other avenues of design. Your product design, presentation board graphics, interaction graphics, identities, and the hard part…U.I., all blew me away. I loved how human the project feels. Simple things like “Good mornin’ Hunter!” go al long way. I also really appreciate the icon status changes. So thoughtful.

Although I think there is some validity in the critiques concerning the physical product, I think its development is also very human. The slight taper at the bottom is very nice. I think slight rounds could go a long way, particularly in side and bottom views. Also, if the yellow and black pieces are both rounded where they meet, I think another level of softness could be achieved. The surfaces feel just a bit harsh.

Finally, I love the notifications interaction. The image you used to communicate this idea was really fun. I just looked down at my iPhone and wondered, “what if.”

Even the placement of the U.I. charger is interactive! WHAT!

Again, give yourself a round of applause. Great work. Super inspiring. Can’t even cover everything!