Defining data ubiquity

Ocean aims to allow users to safely and easily access their digital assets without the constraints of physical hardware, so a personal computing experience can happen on a non-personal computer.


Stepping into the second decade of the century, there are tremendous amount of data existing in our pocket. Managing digital assets is a challenge. Cloud drives are currently our best way to organize files across different devices, but the sign-in process and the constrained interface stops us from efficiently using those products. Apple’s ecosystem works fine with our own devices, but taking your personal hardwares with you is required, and it would lose its magic if you are interacting with a device that’s not yours. This is often, considering how much we used to, and will be going out, and how much shared economy would impact our future.

Ocean believes that shared computing devices with secure and easy log-in would make the world run faster and more efficient. This project aims to illustrate the experience over the delicacy of every single screen.


This is a two-semester long senior thesis project with the inclusion of establishing problem statement, research, prototyping and iterations. I was solely working on all of the aspects of this project with advisory from my professors.


Kate Rutter interaction design

Graham Plumb interaction design


The ring that hoops your data in a loop

With Ocean ring being your wearable key, your software can be available on any device, whether is on your personal or on a public computer. Same digital experience can be conducted on different screen size and interactive method with a simple sign-in. (customized green model in picture)

A scalable, tangible and enjoyable interface

Using modular thinking, the Ocean operating system optimizes its visual interface to adapt the use of mobile (touch input), desktop (Keyboard and mouse input) and remote display (remote input). Switching from one touchpoint to another remains a seamless digital experience with a consistent visual interface.

Easy to access, but not easy to get hacked

Sign in with a public device by tapping the ring onto the sensing area on the device. This action allows most contents that has lower sensitivity to be shown. A multi factor or second step authentification method will be required when users get to private or more sensitive data like finance. Data will be read and edit only while synced, and public devices will not remain any data when users are signed out.



We haven't really organized the "digital-self"

Stepping into the second decade of the century, there has been more smart devices that surround us more than ever. Research suggests that there are about 11 connected devices owned by each U.S. household on average, including 7 with screens to view contents. This is an incredible amount of touchpoints that each household interacts on a daily basis, and it's easy, in that way, to lose control over our digital data. The research below projects the amount of smart devices being shipped, and it's already a big share, even excluding traditional smart devices like mobile phone, tablet and laptop.

How are we handling our smart devices?

To get a better understanding on how we are coping with these information across our personal devices, I have acquired data from 20 participants with various background, ages and familiarity with tech. Apple was particularly mentioned because of its strength in its ecosystem and how well it is organizing itself within its own hardware system. By seeing the feedbacks, the first insight is that people own multiple devices, and there are needs for different tasks on different devices, but there are overlaps.

From talking deeper to the participants, I was able to dig more subjective feelings and reactions to how they interact with their personal devices and other devices. The most prominent response was regarding Apple's AirDrop, but as some participants mentioned, it's not perfect. Others have mixed feelings with other methods when it comes to managing files across devices. These three main issues were brought up when mentioning how they feel when using a public device: privacy of file, the log in process and privacy of account. The second insight drafted from this section is that There are multiple ways to manage files across devices, but there are trade-offs between convenience and security.

Comments on AirDrop

"AirDrop is great, but sometimes I can’t find the receiver."

Comments on AirDrop

"I hate when I AirDrop a file to another device and it doesn’t support the file type."

Comments on cloud drive and messaging service

"I usually use Google Drive or Messenger when transferring from Android to Mac, but it's a hassle."

Comments on cloud drive

"Google Drive is pretty easy once you set it up locally."

Comments on device size

"Typing on small devices is hard...so things like creating a folder or finding a file are annoyingly hard."

Who else is in the game?

We talked about Apple, but they are not the only company that works on building an enclosed digital experience. Huawei and Google also develop some sort of operating systems that aim to engage users from different touchpoints, but they do have pros and cons.


Why needing a mobile phone when it's not needed?

Stepping away from the idea of dependance of mobile phone was noticed early. The inspiration comes from the fact that mobile phone design is coming to its plateau, and how fragile our data is when it's solely dominated by a single piece of hardware. The early brainstorm covered many different ways of how the syncing process would be and what are getting synced.

Data on your finger instead of down in your pocket

By sourcing my information with participants, I was attracted by the aspect of wearables. These items are usually worn, and naturally moved followed by our gesture. There has been wearable products on the market, but they are having their strengths and weaknesses.

Since the inspirations, I have pulled up few iterations in terms of how the system is connected. The attempts covered the interaction between the tangible artifacts and how they bridge the software contents.

To make the ring concept more solid and realistic, I rendered a few mock-ups using 3D software to show how might the ring and how it could be stored. This is at an early prototype level and I was able to 3D-print them out. The ring will come in few standard sizes so it fits most user's hand. Coming with a portable case, the ring rests well when not worn, making sure it's security when on the go.

Not only different just to be different

As the system gets to focus on making easy connections between different devices, the information hierarchy should adapt to the most efficient way of layout. In the early prototypes, I have experimented to put the mega-info on the first level instead of apps, and insert apps and files on the second level. This is to allow users quickly have an overview of all the digital-being and less focus on what's on the device itself.

The second iteration considers more refined modular design and better display on content. Side notification section is added to provoke an easier access to the action of "sync with a device". In this phrase, the mobile device is still a dominant method of making a connection.

In the latest version, I focused on the desktop/tablet version of the interface so that it shows more variety of how the use case might be. The mock suggests a higher polished visual style that contains two layers of contents, similar to the previous explorations. This design direction solidities higher efficiency of browsing and managing contents from different device types.

Branding that reflects cares for users

Ocean is designed to aggregate the thinking over user experience and visual language. Positioning itself next to tech giants like Apple, Google and Huawei, Ocean aims to speak a solid styling that is able to look realistic and trustworthy.

The logo design reflects few qualities that Ocean cares as a company. The logo contains some level of complexity but not overkilled. The main focus is to communicate that Ocean devotes to protect user's data and make sure it's safe and progressive for users to drive their information with our system.

The style guide communicates a subtlety of brand language. It exposes a sense of solidity as well as a few visual design choices of gentleness and balance in which icons and graphics with rounded corners are used.


A free system without compromising security

To simply illustrate the system, this diagram below shows how Ocean works in brief. Using Ocean ring as the biometric access method, users can tap on non-personal devices to sync up to the same content and digital experience. Using 5G or higher bandwidth of Wi-Fi, data can be conducted in short notice of time to a new device. However, the content will be read-and-edit only when synced. As soon as users walks away or signs out, data will be removed from the memory of this public device.

Customized privacy

Ocean allows users to edit their privacy level of individual files between "Public" and "Private". Public files can be seen on any type of device, while private ones can only been displayed on personal devices. As this demo below shows, on a personal device, user can toggle on/off privacy settings for a Sketch file within a second.

Environment Awareness

Ocean identifies device type and it's environment. When used in specific locations (like on an airplane), Ocean recognizes the environment and suggests particular actions (recommend apps and continue to play media).


With technology explodes, humanity is loosing great controls over our digital experience. Ocean defines data ubiquity for users, providing the most consistent and worry-free digital experience.