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Selected Work
Project Clutter  Design Research
Lumen Design Research
Bockey  Sound Installation
Gazebo  Interactive Performance
Moiré Fringe  Virtual Production
Clock 1  Kinetic Sculpture
Vending Door  Critical Design
Use-Less Phone Case  Absurd Design

About Me


Bockey in Water
Xiaoyu Rockey Ke / 2023
Plastic Box, Solar Panel, Battery, Battery Charger, PLA Filaments, Headphones, Synthetic Fabric, Micro-controller, Sim Card, Phone Module, Antennas, Condom, Coin, Miscellaneous Personal Memorabilia

Bockey is a solar-powered floating box that one can call whenever for the real-time sound of its surrounding.

Press the number here
718-877-7119 to call Bockey.(Mute your mic for clearer audio.)

Thesis Presentation 
Click below to view my presentation at ITP in May, 2023.


        During the Covid-19 global pandemic, I could not return home and felt rather confined to my urban surrounding. Having claustrophobia growing up, this experience felt like a chronic one creeping up the back of my mind. Like many, I relied heavily on my phone as the tie to my loved ones. The nature of such remote connections amazes me for they appear very much like “the real thing” when it happens, the sense of connection is limited to the course of its happening. As phone calls begin and end, these temporary intimacies teleported me from where I was to somewhere incredibly near where my loved ones are. With frustration and wonder, I could not help but ask: How far can a phone call take me? I wanted to make a very distant phone call that can take its caller far away, possibly somewhere new, or somewhere one would not have been able to go without the phone call.
Bockey Idea Sketch

        To make this distant phone call possible, I set out to create an independent entity that carries a phone while traveling outside of the boundaries that I am under. Similar to how modern phone calls promise connection across space and time, I envisioned Bockey (a portmanteau joining the word "buoy" and my name "Rockey") to be an energy-independent buoy that travels freely and floats about in international water, as an alternative self that I can call whenever, wherever, forever.


        Currently, Bockey encloses a phone module for LTE communication, a solar charging unit for power supply, and miscellaneous personal memorabilia that make Bockey a drifting bottle as well as a time capsule. Bockey’s functionality is choreographed with Arduino scripts and AT-Commands to pick up incoming phone calls. A homemade waterproof and UV-proof microphone is engineered with enhanced sensitivity counteract the common compression applied to cellular phone calls, so that ambient sound on Bockey’s end is picked up with higher fidelity for a more immersive and articulated aural experience on the caller’s end.

Assembling Bockey At Home
Assembling Bockey in Field Testing

        A major challenge met during the development of Bockey was the incorporation of satellite phone calls on Bockey, which would allow Bockey to travel freely in the ocean with the help of the global coverage of satellite networks. Being unable to incorporate satellite transmission yet, this first rendition of Bockey relies on LTE networks to reach its callers.  
        Bockey was tested in various locations: in urban spaces, in nature, and the in-between of the two (such as a city park in New York City). 

        Below is a recorded phone call between me and Bockey on April 26, 2023.



A newer version of Bockey with satellite transmission is currently under development.


*Special thanks to Jeff Feddersen, Yonatan Rozin, Pedro Oliveira, Wayne Palvako, Peishan Huang, Keer Zhao, Margaret, Galen, Cece, Mimi, Yeseul, Tom Igoe, Yonatan Rozin, Maya Williams, Martin, Polina & Lu, Francisco, Tim Mayell, Eva & Sophia, Jay & Tim, Despina, Benny, Yvonne, Johann, Jackson Wang, Cindy & Tianran for your guidance and aid throughout this project.