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Ruoyong Hong

Ruoyong Hong is an interaction designer specializing in emerging technologies such as AI and self-driving cars. His focus is to create technology that harmoniously bridges humans and technology. Ruoyong Hong has a background in urban planning and design, and has transitioned into digital design to explore the potential of digital interfaces.

Interview with the 2023 Vega Digital Awards Winner - Ruoyong Hong

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

I'm Eli Hong, an interaction designer specializing in emerging technology design. I've been fortunate to shape the future of technologies like AI, self-driving cars, and VR. My contributions have led to several patents and awards, impacting industries from transportation to production. I have worked with renowned institutions such as Peking University, Stanford Healthcare Innovation Lab, Collective Future, and now Robert Bosch.

At Bosch, I pioneered the way we interact with tomorrow's technology as a senior interaction designer and design leader and had the privilege of seeing my designs influence new technological forms.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a digital designer/artist?

I've always felt that design should harmoniously bridge technology and humans. I started with urban planning and design, fascinated by how physical space connects people. But I've seen technology reshaping human-machine interactions. Given my skills in data and understanding human behavior, it felt natural to dive into digital design, which has the vast potential of digital interfaces to connect us – including human-to-human, human-to-machine, and even human-to-AI.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

As a Senior Interaction Designer and Design Lead at Robert Bosch, a global technology powerhouse, I oversee the development of critical projects, setting benchmarks for software and hardware integration within our automotive and industrial sectors. This work contributes significantly to optimizing our production processes and enhancing our customer offerings. My commitment to excellence involves rigorous user testing and the construction of simulation environments to validate our designs. A prime example of this is setting new standards for driver assistance technologies, which I have been instrumental in developing and validating in close partnership with our engineering teams.

My role extends to strategic collaboration with research departments, leading the advancement of emerging technologies with a human-centered perspective. In addition, I take pride in fostering professional growth in the company by mentoring peers and sharing Bosch's latest innovations through structured coaching and education initiatives.

4What’s your favorite kind of digital design and why?

I love designs that foster respectful and meaningful interactions between humans and technology. Like a good conversation between friends, the conversation between people and machines should be enriching and seamlessly become part of everyday life.

5To you, what makes a “good” design?

Good design combines human needs with engineering feats. It stands at the crossroads of art and technology, built on robust decision logic, backed by research, and evolves into principles that guide future innovations.

6Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

My designs are clear and instructive, especially when crafting design guidelines. When I apply design to impactful real-world challenges, they are friendly and precise. Ensuring users feel valued and cared for.

7Tell us about your design process.

I follow the double-diamond approach. It starts with deep learning about the subject – understanding users through research and expert interviews. After that, my team and I distill our findings into insights. This leads to a cycle of design, prototyping, and testing – learning from our successes and setbacks. Each step adds value to the final design.

8Where do you draw inspiration from?

Engaging with local and global communities fuels my inspiration. Delivering talks also stimulates my thinking. Sharing insights often sparks fresh ideas that solitary thinking might miss.

9What current trends in digital design (or really anything digital related) are you most excited about?

I am currently deeply involved in the pioneering field of autonomous diving technology. The prospect of how users will engage and experience this technology shortly is truly exciting. In addition, the trend towards integrating human-centered design into manufacturing, especially when paired with emerging technologies such as AI and Augmented Reality, shows us many fascinating opportunities as designers.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 Vega Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Thank you! This award highlights the passion and dedication behind my designs. It's an acknowledgment that my efforts are shaping positive change, and it pushes me to reach even greater heights.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 Vega Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Wel AI is an AI-powered personal communication app. It rethinks the integration of AI into everyday email tasks, facilitating analytical reading and using a conversational approach to email composition. By cultivating a personal writing style and adopting a social relationship library, Wel AI ensures that both the user and AI benefit symbiotically. The design fosters flexible and respectful collaboration between users and AI. It collaborates, ensuring that the assistance provided is tailored, enhancing communication while preserving individuality.

I chose this project for the awards because many new technologies, like this one, are trying to help people, but sometimes they can be too pushy and take over. With this design, I wanted to show that technology can help without taking away our personal touch. I think "Wel AI" is a good example of how designers like me can make technology work for us, not against us. Hopefully, it can contribute to the discussion of the future design norm for AI.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The hardest part was figuring out how much help the AI should give in personal emails. Emails are personal, so we wanted the AI to help without taking over. It's like having a friend who suggests ideas but doesn't talk to you. We wanted to make sure that using AI felt smooth and natural, without users having to jump between screens or click too many buttons.

Another challenge was that we had some technical limitations, so we couldn't show a real demo of how AI would work. Despite these challenges, we were excited to create something new that seamlessly blends AI into our daily lives.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
I believe the award validates my approach and design ethos. It serves as a platform to connect with fellow designers and researchers, fostering collaborations and pushing the boundaries of what's possible.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about the digital industry?

It's an ever-changing landscape.

It is an innate respect for human intuition.

The constant encouragement to think outside the box

15Where do you see the evolution of digital industry going over the next 5-10 years?
There are three important shifts I can see. First, AI will redefine content creation. Second, spatial computing, like AR/VR, will usher in new forms of digital interaction. Finally, as autonomous driving matures, it will craft unique digital content consumption scenarios. Being on the front lines, I am eager to shape these transformations positively for humanity.
16Who has inspired you in your life and why?

I am inspired every day by the wonderful people I meet, from my family and friends to colleagues and even strangers in the coffee shop. Everyone has their own unique way of seeing the world. By learning from them and their experiences, I get fresh ideas and perspectives. It's like having an endless library of ideas. It reminds me to always design things that make life better for people.

17What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Thinking through making, learning through sharing.

Winning Entry

Wel AI | 2023

In an era where AI often overshadows human essence in communication, Wel AI emerges as a solution to this challenge. ...
(read more at Vega Digital Awards)

Ruoyong Hong

Ruoyong Hong is an interaction designer specializing in emerging technologies such as AI and self-driving cars. His focus is to create technology that harmoniously bridges humans and technology. Ruoyong Hong has a background in urban planning and design, and has transitioned into digital design to explore the potential of digital interfaces.

Read more about Ridhima Gupta's interview for the 2023 Vega Digital Awards!