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Actuated tangible design


Jesse Gao



2023 Spring

This is a 2-week long class project in Actuated User Interface by Ken Nakagiki offered in 2023 winter quarter. Using servo motors to actuate the phone could bring convenience to daily use.

Actuated phone stand for daily use



Having a lot of devices at work is common now. People might need to spend most of their working time facing laptops or screens. However, smartphones might store much more useful/urgent information, which people need to check constantly. Given the fact that a normal phone stand can solve this problem, where it is hard to check the phone and other devices at the same time, making the phone fixed loses the nature of the phone's flexibility and multi-degree of freedom. Inspired by PINOKY, if a “ring” can actuate toys, it can also move phones. Luckily, the phone ring with a MagSafe technique is designed for iPhone users, which has already shown practical usage, like helping people hold the phone firmly, being a mini phone stand, etc. Then the design challenge becomes how to design the mechanism to make the ring actuate the iPhone. For example, making the phone stand without using hands, letting the phone face people when needed, and adjusting the angle so that people would have a comfortable reading/watching experience.


From my personal experience, I was struggling with this case—when my family made Facetime with me, most of the time I was doing some tasks, cooking, cleaning the house, or studying on my laptop, I could barely free my hands to hold the phone to show my face in the camera, which made my mom feels bad. Now, with FreStand, I can place my phone next to me when I am sitting in front of my laptop. It will adjust the phone’s angle to face me all the time. Or when I am cooking, moving in the 
kitchen, FreeStand on the bar table would rotate correctly to follow my head. This would make my Facetime experience more convenient. Another example is that when we need to do some live demonstrations for remote audiences at home, it is hard to set up all the cameras from different perspectives. FreeStand could be controlled by a joystick to manually adjust the angle so that the presenter could control the flow and make the process clearer by pointing to the
targets on demand.


Referring to the mobile phone gimbal, which allows users to control the phone’s angles and keep stable, two servo motors are needed to make the phone realize two degrees of freedom—yaw, pitch, which are the basic features of the proposed “smart” phone stand. The mechanic design follows the idea in Robiot2 and Roman3.


Also, such a phone stand needs to “welcome”(be activated) the users when they are nearby and “sleep”(be inactivated) when they don’t need to use the phone. So, an ultrasonic sensor can be used here to provide distance information to achieve the

design principles.

3D modeling process(When doing the test, I found the overall 3D printed pieces were too big and not aesthetic, so I added the motor cover and improved the holding shell which can easily snap in the ring).

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