Independent Study: Experimental Product Design

This independent study delves into experimental prototyping of alternative smartphone input methodologies. This study explores and tests mobile-interaction design norms through creative exploration.

Faculty Advisor: Dylan Greif

Product Design / Experimental Prototyping


Why do we interact with our phones the way we do? Is there room for more functional creativity? What does this look like? How can we push these boundaries and develop more intuitive, creative, and meaningful interactions?

What are the capabilities of modern smartphones that are under-utilized that could potentially aid in communication and/or efficiency? How can we design interactions in accordance to these capabilities that follow humanist principles?


I decided to experiment with utilizing smartphone sensors to alter the traditional user experience. Rather than adhering to traditional methodologies as a first step, I looped back and decided to experiment with input that altered the functionality of the traditional mobile experience.

I created different sets of interactions using basic forms to illustrate new, abstract ideas that could possibly have potential to be implemented into applications or natively into operating systems.

These experiments revolved around smartphone gyroscopes and proximity sensors, using them to make intuitive expressions and responses. While modern day smartphones utilize a multitude of input sensors, my experiments focus in depth on these two. These two particular sensors stood out to me to experiment with, as they lend themselves to natural human hand gestures. If these expressions were to be paired with creative objects and responses, the results could be an interaction that enhances the efficiency and intuitiveness of mobile devices.

The following is a collection from my abstract experiments, and lend themselves to generate new ideas and discussion.

Gyroscope Sensor

Proximity Sensor

Gyroscope Sensor Experimentation: Tilt

Flick Tilt

Designed around the “flicking” motion of the wrist that pulls back from the traditional long-form tilt. This motion sends objects into a predictable trajectory in which users can interact from.

Flick Tilt-Bottom Panel

Flicks a menu-like panel that can be interacted with

Flick Tilt - Exit Functionality

Utilizing the intuitive motion of pushing “away”, this expression allows user to exit from their current view

Flick Tilt-Paging

Flicks between pages with back and forth wrist motion to quickly move through content

Flick Tilt-Swipe Functionality

Uses gestural expression to interact in-tune with items on screen, allowing for alternative, intuitive interactions

Flick Tilt-Toggle

Intuitive gesture that propels a toggle towards the user that allows for interaction

Precision Tilt

Using a slower, more responsive approach that emphasizes user input over a longer duration of time.

Precision Tilt - Scroll (Vertical)

Common scroll functionality expressed through the tilting of the phone against the X-Axis

Precision Tilt - Scroll (Horizontal)

Common scroll functionality expressed through the tilting of the phone against the Y-Axis

Precision Tilt - 3D Functionality

Using the Y-Axis as a basis for 3D tilt, activating the space for interaction potential

Precision Tilt - Chain

Linking vertical tilt that binds together multiple interfaces

Precision Tilt - Opacity

Utilizing the variability of precision tilt in altering the opacity of certain elements, making way for further potential interactions

Precision Tilt - Paging

Toggle paging that allows the user to move back and forth between two sets of information quickly.

Proximity Sensor Experimentation


Using the proximity sensor (typically only used to turn the screen black when taking calls) as a tool for gestural interaction

Proximity Sensor - Force out

Mimicking natural hand gestures to push out, or force out screens that are no longer needed

Proximity Sensor - Media Pause

Quick hand gesture to pause certain types of media

Proximity Sensor - Media Hold

Allows for other functionality to take place simultaneously while media is being halted

Proximity Sensor - Storing Information

Functions as a “third hand” for storing small bits of information


This study allowed me to analyze new input methodologies that could potentially be implemented into apps or native systems. It was exciting to see the high-fidelity prototypes come together and articulate the concepts that I wanted to explore.

Sensors are underutilized in today’s mobile interaction design, but are advanced enough to be adapted to serve the user experience in augmented ways, besides their intended function. These prototypes are intended to spark ideas on new, potential interactions that can be fully implemented by designers and developers.