Skip to main content

Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSc)

Kevin Chiam

While formally trained as an industrial designer in Singapore, Kevin is essentially a curious explorer at heart. His inquisitive nature motivates him to undertake international projects which stem from multiple disciplines, i.e. UI, UX, product, medical, spatial, environmental, service and hospitality design. 

After a successful launch on Kickstarter in 2017, Kevin cofounded VOORT studio, a watch collective that crafts minimalistic, experimental timepieces. He has also worked at the Tokyo Design Lab and Keio-NUS CUTE Centre and currently serves as a design associate for the Design Singapore Council. 

Kevin’s work has been featured in Archpaper, Channel News Asia, CNN Style, Core77, Dezeen, iF World Design Guide, Index Project, James Dyson Award, Dyson On Magazine, Reuters, Wallpaper* and Yanko Design. His work has been presented at the Stanford Center on Longevity Design Conference, The Artling Collectible Design Showcase, Reciprocity Design Liege - Handle With Care, Dubai Design Week and has recently been invited to exhibit at the Ventura Future Design Showcase in Milan, Italy. 

Kevin has been awarded the James Dyson Award (National Winner, Singapore and International Finalist) in 2018, second place for the Europe Prize Trophy Design Competition in 2019 and first place for the 2020 KI Award, presented by KI Europe. Other achievements include:

HAY Talent Award Asia, Shortlisted
Global Grad Show, COVID-19 Design Competition, Finalist 

International Housewares Association Student Design Competition, First Prize 

INDUSTART International Design Award, First Prize
TEDA Cup International Youth Design Competition, Honourable Mention
Singapore Creative Awards, Silver Prize
INDE Awards, Top 5 Finalist
Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge, Top 10 Finalist

Wallpaper* Handmade Callout, Top 10 Finalist
Lexus Design Award, Finalist
Taiwan International Student Design Competition, Gold Award
Global Grad Show Progress Prize, Honourable Mention
DSTAR Furniture Design Award, Second Prize
Core77 Design Awards, Furniture & Lighting Award, Student Winner 


Personal Portfolio



Airtomo Press Kit

Degree Details

School of Design

Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSc)

Air pollution is unfortunately an unintended consequence of our consumption habits. In fact, pollution on underground transportation is much more severe than roadside air. Ironically, people are less aware of the dangers that lurk beneath as pollutants are generally invisible to the naked eye. That knowledge encouraged me to explore both traditional and unorthodox methods of removing pollutants. This included using pneumatics, adhesives, electrostatics, ionisation, bubbles and liquid filters.

Like many other creatives around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has personally challenged me to consider novel means of concept validation, especially so when I am based in London. For example, online, co-creation workshops replaced group ideation sessions. Instead of physical prototypes, visual models served as alternative conversation starters to garner community feedback. With just a few creative tweaks, the project has successfully adapted to lockdown-imposed constraints and has delivered a meaningful outcome.  

Harnessing the power of water to clean polluted air.
Our battle with air pollution is not just above ground, it is also under; pollution on underground transportation, e.g. London Underground (LU), can be 20 times higher than roadside air [1]. The primary pollutants are particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and 10, which are many times smaller than a strand of hair. They are hence tiny enough to enter our body to cause damage. If we spend just 20 minutes underground, this may lead to damage equivalent to smoking a cigarette [2].

Iron oxides form the majority of the pollutants and are typically produced from the interaction between train wheels and tracks. PM concentrations are affected by particle resuspension, a phenomenon where PM at rest is disturbed and recirculates back into the air. This is due to trains and the train tunnel piston effect, as well as people’s movement.

Inspired by how Nature uses rain to clean the air, Airtomo wearables and modules release dry, atomised water vapour to remove pollutants through a process called aggregation [3]. Water droplets bind harmful particles to form large, heavy aggregates which fall to the ground, thus removing PM from the air. They no longer resuspend, even after water has evaporated, and can subsequently be removed with a mop or broom.

Airtomo proposes a decentralised, dynamic way to purify air. The infrastructure modules leverage on the train tunnel piston effect to push vapour into station platforms to clean the air and directly tackles resuspension at the source when it is installed along passage ways, intersections, entrances or exits. Airtomo wearables offer individuals a personal vapour cloud that actively cleans the air one breathes or reduces PM resuspension induced by walking. In addition, Airtomo consumes nominal resources [4]. Most importantly, the process is visually tangible, thus motivating adoption.

[1] Financial Times, 2019.
[2] British Lung Foundation, 2003.
[3] A single atomiser cleans 167 litres of polluted air in a minute.
[4] A single atomiser consumes 23ml of water per hour and utilises 1.5W of power. Airtomo wearables house between 30 to 50ml of water. This capacity is based on the average travel duration taken by LU commuters – 1 hour.
air pollutionclean airdesign for social impactenvironmentindustrial designproduct designtechnology

Airtomo Wearables — An average adult exchanges about 110 l of air every minute. In comparison, a single atomiser within each wearable cleans 167 l of polluted air in a minute, which is 1.5 times more.

Airtomo Wearables In Context 1 — Positioning the wearable near the chest safeguards personal health as the vapour cloud directly cleans the air individuals breathe. Original images by Nike.

Airtomo Wearables In Context 2 — Placing the wearable on a bag or shoe safeguards the collective well-being of occupants in a given space and the environment. This is because the released vapour deposits resuspended PM induced by walking. Original images by Adidas.

Airtomo Infrastructure Modules — The Airtomo infrastructure system comprises of scout modules (top) and main modules (bottom). Scout modules detect human or train motion and send this information to the main modules via Wi-Fi, which then release electrostatic charged vapour.

Airtomo Infrastructure System In Context 1 — The infrastructure system retrofits existing stations. It is designed to be situated along passage ways, intersections, entrances and exits. Original image by Chad Davis.

Airtomo Infrastructure System In Context 2 — Not only does Airtomo tackle resuspension at the source, it also forms vapour curtains to block out pollutants and leverages on the piston effect to clean air. Original image by Yago Veith.

Pollutant Aggregation — Water vapour binds harmful particles to form large, heavy aggregates which fall to the ground, thus removing PM from the air.

Working Prototypes 1 — 1:1 scale working prototypes were developed to validate the effectiveness of atomised vapour in lowering PM concentrations.

Working Prototypes 2 — Core components such as micro controllers are configured differently to accommodate different modes of usage.

Working Prototypes 3 — A Wi-Fi enabled, motion sensor prototype was developed to test the communication between the scout and main modules.

Concept Mapping — Initial ideas revolved around personal air cleaning devices, infrastructure interventions and potential combinations that work together as system. The ideation process was seeded by scientific principles, namely, ionisation, humidity, dust suppression, plasma filtration, wet and dry scrubbing, triboelectric effect, adhesives and pneumatics.

Experiment Setup — Early experiments were conducted in a 500 x 500 x 500mm chamber. Concepts which leverage on foot motion were set on the shoe prior to sealing the chamber. The mechanical foot was removed to test concepts which do not rely on foot motion to purify air. An air quality sensor by Plume labs provided live updates on PM concentrations.

Experiments 1 to 4 — The first 3 experiments tinkered with pneumatics – dirty air was drawn towards HEPA grade air filters to trap PM. Experiments 4 to 6 explored the potential of replaceable adhesives to capture particles.

Experiments 5 to 8 — Experiments 7 and 8 leveraged on the principles of electrostatics and ionisation to deposit and catch particles respectively. Experiment 9 combined electrostatics and bubbles to trap and clean polluted air.

Experiments 9 to 12 — Experiments 10 and 11 utilised water as a medium to filter and entrap pollutants. Experiment 12 investigated the impact of atomised water vapour on lowering PM concentration. The experiment emulated the way Nature uses rain to clean air.

Virtual Validation — An online survey and co-design workshop was conducted to understand if people welcome the idea of adopting an air-cleaning wearable. In general, people are receptive provided that changes or benefits are tangible, e.g. protect their health.

A large part of experimentation was driven by approaches developed by Man. While some prove to be useful, the concepts were unnecessarily complex and challenging to implement. The eureka moment struck when the project deviated from the “artificial” and instead turned to Nature and how she leverages on rain to clean air. That step towards bio-mimicry made all the difference.

Virtual Validation — Based on the feedback from 102 survey participants, a large majority (45%) would prefer to position the wearable towards the face as it directly benefits an individual’s health in a polluted environment.

Airtomo Neck Band — Airtomo neck band is shaped for comfort and tailored to complement the natural contours of the neck. It offers a personal vapour cloud that directly cleans the air one breathes. Original images by Nike.

Airtomo Neck Band Components — This form is made possible with a streamlined atomiser unit design – 20 x 20 x 60mm. The water cartridge holds 30ml of water – equivalent to approx. an hour of usage, which is the average travel duration for commuters in London.

Airtomo Ankle Band — Airtomo ankle band follows the same philosophy as the neck band. They can be switched on or off with a heel-click. This action was inspired by the film, Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy clicks her heels to return home. Original images by Adidas.

Airtomo Ankle Band Components — Unlike the neck band, Airtomo ankle band does not require a cotton filter as water flows down and towards the atomiser unit due to gravity.

Current Airtomo wearables are limited by technology, namely the size of the micro-controllers. After speaking with electrical engineers, the possibility of customising a much smaller and more efficient circuit board promises flexibility in design. With that in mind, future wearables can be further streamlined to complement the body’s silhouette. Community feedback is key. Hence, the new designs consider people’s opinions on how they would adopt the technology as a wearable.
Airtomo Neck Band
Airtomo Ankle Band

Plume Labs

Plume Labs is an environmental technology company on a mission to equip citizens with information on the air they breathe. Their flagship mobile application, Plume Air Report, helps consumers stay ahead of air pollution, providing real-time air quality level forecasts in more than 60 countries worldwide.


DesignSingapore Council

The DesignSingapore Scholarship is for individuals with creativity, drive and passion for design. The scholarship will groom designers to become design leaders who will use strategy and innovation to make things better by design.

Previous Student

Next Student

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
Royal College of Art
Registered Office: Royal College of Art,
Kensington Gore, South Kensington,
London SW7 2EU
RCA™ Royal College of Art™ are trademarks
of the Royal College of Art