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Ontologies for Interaction: Enabling serendipitous interoperability in smart environments

by Gerrit Niezen.

connector deviceThe thesis describes the design and development of an ontology and software framework to support user interaction in
ubiquitous computing scenarios. The key goal of ubiquitous
computing is “serendipitous interoperability”, where devices
that were not necessarily designed to work together should be
able to discover each other’s functionality and be able to make
use of it. Future ubiquitous computing scenarios involve hundreds of devices. Therefore, anticipating all the different types
of devices and usage scenarios a priori is an unmanageable

G. Niezen, Ontologies for Interaction: Enabling serendipitous interoperability in smart environments, PhD Thesis, Department of Industrial Design, Einhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, 2012.

Continue reading Ontologies for Interaction: Enabling serendipitous interoperability in smart environments

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Sense Your Heart

By using a PPG system (photoplethysmograph), data from the heart beat can easily be obtained. Although the device is relatively simple, the design opportunities that are created are fast and as complex as the designer’s wishes. In the module “sense your heart”, master students created several very interesting ideas and prototypes. The goal of this module was to get a good understanding of the workings of the human heart and how this working can be monitored. Secondly a learning objective was to implement these measurements in a concept using a self-built Photoplethysmography sensor and corresponding software. This technology can be used for measuring the heart rate, which in our case was used to determine the heart-rate variability which can be an indicator for relaxation or arousal.

Continue reading Sense Your Heart

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Spotlight Navigation: “interactive controllers for the ubiquitous, invisible technological networks”

Spotlight navigation
Spotlight navigation

Erik Kogler, one of our bachelor students, designed a handheld projector based user interface for environments that are full of smart objects. “Spotlight Navigation at the TU/e can thus be said to arise from SOFIA’s need for interactive controllers for the ubiquitous, invisible technological networks that will surround the user (in this case in the home). When dealing with pervasive technology it is normally assumed that all manner of products will be able to share and collect information, even though they lack an interface capable of creating the connections to make this useful. … Spotlight Navigation device seems an ideal solution to this lack of interface as it can use any surface to create a vast and entirely flexible user-interface.”

Download the final report [PDF, 800+K]

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Semantic Resources: A tree to create awareness about domestic resource consumption.

Semantic Resources
Semantic Resources

Willem Willemsen, one of our master students, designed a decorative toy tree to create awareness about domestic resource consumption. “I chose this metaphor because trees are associated with the environment and the better you do the better your tree (representing the environment) gets. The size of the tree doesn’t only represent the environment, but also the user’s personal effort on reducing resource consumption. Plants are also something that people use a decorative objects in their houses, so the object wouldn’t be an alien object in-between the rest of the objects in the house. The way it works is that the user can build the tree with building blocks. These blocks have a light source inside them that will light up when a level is gained. Each time a level is gained the next block turns on until all blocks are turned on. When this happens the user can add a piece to the tree, and the level starts over again. This means that the system has no levelling limits and can keep growing indefinitely with enough pieces.”

Download the PDF [2M] for more details.

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Doormat is not just a doormat


Don Willems designed a doormat. The doormat is not just for wiping your feet, but also for lowering the electricity consumption. How does it do it? The doormat is at the same time a LED display that allows people to easily turn off devices when leaving the house as well as improving their energy consumption behavior by leaning from tailored coaching when coming in. Read the full report for more information [PDF, 3M]

From his report, “The Doormate is for wiping your feet and supporting lowering of electricity consumption. It does the latter by communicating information through an integrated LED display. It allows people to easily turn of devices when leaving the house as well as improving their energy consumption behavior by learning from tailored coaching when coming in. One could say the Doormate is addressing both the ‘consumer’ – making sure no money is wasted when not at home and the ‘citizen’ – contributing by environmental friendly behaviour – in people. Continue reading Doormat is not just a doormat

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Centralized versus Decentralized: A Study on Tangible Control over Devices in the Living Room

By Matthijs Kwak

Interesting work done by one of the master students. [Project Report, PDF, 700K]

SCD2, Decentralized.
SCD1, centralized.

Abstract: Technology is moving to the background and interoperability between devices increases. The handles for users to explore, make and break connections between devices seem to disappear inoverly complex menu structures displayed on small screens. Two prototypes have been developed that introduce a tangible approach towards exploring, making and breaking connections between devices in the living room. One provides a centralized approach (SCD1), the other a decentralized approach (SCD2). Industrial Design students and graduates(N=12) have performed tasks and were asked to explain and grade one out of three methods: SCD1 (image 1), SCD2 (image 2) and bluetooth pairing.Findings suggest that users are better able to project their mental model of how the system works on SCD2 and that atangible solution is not necessarily a better one.

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We Touch Pillow: The pillow that communicates family presence through warmth without an obliged effort for the user

by Sophie van der Weerd, [PDF | 2M]

WeTouch Pillow

In her B22 project report, Sophie writes: “…I will offer the ‘WeTouch Pillow’; the pillow that communicates your families’ presence in a subtle way without an obliged effort. If one uses his pillow, the pillow of the other becomes warmer and vice versa. I will focus upon the communication tools market. The market will have a need for my product, since it communicates family presence without an obligation and current communication tools require an obligation and effort, which people do not like when communicating with their family like having to call, as to my user research. I want to express to the market the importance of family presence and contact, but that there is no obliged effort needed. The internet will be a good medium to use to contact the target group of relatives living apart, since the younger generations uses it a lot. And I try to reach people who live apart from each other, so an internet service which sends one pillow to each of the relatives is a good way to sell the WeTouch Pillow. Also because an internet connection is needed for the pillows to connect…”


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Far far away … To help expats feel more at home abroad

Far far away ...
Far far away ...

A nice project done by MieKe Kleppe. “The goal of my IBP is to design a system or device that will help expats to feel more at home abroad. I used literature, interviews, surveys and a context mapping session to find out that the real problem is that they feel far away from the people that really know them. After some more research and idea generation I refined my direction in designing a system or device that will motivate friends of the expat to share their daily life with the expat with use of text messages. So I chose to design something for the friends, not the expats themselves. The biggest challenge for this project was to make sending the messages as little effort for the friend as possible, but still keep it interesting for the expat.

The result of my project is a pendant that can be hung on the phone of the friend. With a simple sliding movement a message is send to his expat friend. Context awareness phones are used to determine what the friend is doing and which message should be send.”

Download the report [PDF, 800K] for details.