About my blog

The aim of the ITD course (ID4220) at the Delft University of Technology is to provide Design For Interaction Master students with in-depth theoretical and practical interaction design knowledge to help develop future products based on user-product social interaction. ITD proceeds through a sequence of iterations focusing on various aspects of the brief and the design, and culminates in an experiential prototype.

This blog is managed by Walter A. Aprile: please write if you have questions.



De meningen ge-uit door medewerkers en studenten van de TU Delft en de commentaren die zijn gegeven reflecteren niet perse de mening(en) van de TU Delft. De TU Delft is dan ook niet verantwoordelijk voor de inhoud van hetgeen op de TU Delft weblogs zichtbaar is. Wel vindt de TU Delft het belangrijk - en ook waarde toevoegend - dat medewerkers en studenten op deze, door de TU Delft gefaciliteerde, omgeving hun mening kunnen geven.

Posts in category environment3

Factories, smoke machines, grass, and an alien planet

The Exhibition Plan

The narration we want our exhibition to
convey is Dzorb’s life story: from leaving its alien planet and landing in Delft, to working
together with the IDE faculty to raise awareness of the amount of CO2 in the

Important is that we reach not only the person
who interacts with Dzorb itself, but also the audience and passers-by: Dzorb is
only a small creature that prefers one-on-one contact.

Furthermore, our exhibition should reflect
our mission of making people more aware of the bad influence of high levels of
CO2 in a personal, involving way, and complement the final presentation video
and vice versa.


Some of our initial ideas:

Alien planet hanging from the ceiling

Cardboard factories + smoke machine


Fluorescent paint

Glow-in-the-dark stars

Human powered exhibition (metropolis style)
both electric and mechanical




We want to split our part of the studio in two parts: one reflecting a high amount of CO2 with (cardboard) factories and (paper) smoke, and one with grass and plants for good air quality. In the middle will be an area to interact with Dzorb. The main issue is: how can we show the
working of the CO2 sensor in an open environment? How can we create an area
with significantly more, or less, CO2?
To involve the audience more, as fitting our design goal, some features of the factories will be human-powered, for example to provide energy for the lighting of our posters, or to make a story board move. This could simply be by spinning a wheel, but also by riding a bike with a dynamo.
The following floor plan shows more information about sight lines, level of attention for different parts of the exhibition, and walking space.
1. Dzorb’s crater: main point of attention = spotlight. The rectangle around the crater is the space people can use to experience Dzorb’s interaction qualities: a path between an industrial environment with a high CO2 level, and a green environment with a low CO2 level.
2. Cardboard factories with informative posters and space for our brochures. These should we well-lit, as they will be the main source of information for the people who won’t get a chance to interact with Dzorb.
3. Human-powered factories with additional information. This information is not essential to understand our concept, but will help to involve the audience in our exhibition, and provide the people who are interested with more detail. The light will mainly be on the human-power-generating devices, to motivate people to use them, and to make the detailed information visible themselves.
Finally, a sketch of an elevation (front) to show the differences in the heights of the factories, to get a diorama effect:




Experiments with Dragon Skin





Act 1 – Twilight

  1. The staff of the IDE faculty in Delft is in a tense discussion (think Hollywood disaster movie presidential meeting): CO2 problems, mad scientists, alien invasions… Something needs to happen about people’s awareness of high levels of CO2 in the air around them and the problems it causes, not only regarding climate change, but also their personal health. Eventually, a decision is made: the infamous Team Tiger Blood is asked to find a solution.


Act 2 – New Moon

  1. In the mean time… Dzorb is happy with his girlfriend Dzorbina on planet Dzorbius. Their planet has a precarious balance of air quality, and thus all Dzorbs are very sensitive to CO2, and show their agitation with a fast, vibrating heartbeat.
  2. But then, the Mad Bad Scientist has discovered these creatures as a crucial tool for world domination, so he demolishes their planet and sucks Dzorb to his hidden laboratory somewhere on earth.
  3. However, Dzorb is spotted by a mysterious stranger, who gets curious about this little being, and secretly follows him to the lab.


Act 3 – Eclipse

  1. In the lab, the Mad Bad Scientist performs vivisection on Dzorb, discovering all components and technical details (its Arduino brain, its vibrator heart, and of course its CO2 sensitivity) while looking for the clue he needs to fulfill his evil schemes, unaware that the mysterious stranger is watching him.
  2. The mysterious stranger notifies the heroes of Team Tiger Blood of this atrocious act, and Team Tiger Blood realizes that not only can they save an innocent creature, but also solve the IDE faculty’s CO2 awareness issue.
  3. Our favourite heroes come to the rescue, and defeat the Mad Bad Scientist with their magical Dragon Skin® 20.


Act 4 – Breaking Dawn

  1. Dzorb is left in the care of a VIP, who save the world from CO2 unawareness together, by acting out the two different scenarios: high amount of CO2 and low amount of CO2.
  2. Also, they get to know each other, and discover each other’s serendipitous features: a satisfied purring when stroked, and an angry growl when shaken.
  3. They love each other, are aware (and make others aware) of CO2 problems, and live happily ever after. The only question remains: who is the mysterious stranger? Is he one of the good guys? Is he a villain? Is he an alter ego of Team Tiger Blood?

BOM (Technical details and Skype meetings with China)

After finishing our prototype design, we had a very informative meeting with Boukje Koch about real manufacturing possibilities in China. We mainly discussed materials and production technology, and will probably receive some more information early next week.
Our bill of materials:
Drawings of our Solidworks model: 
These two casing parts will be connected by a spring to evoke squeezing, and will be made from a hard, translucent plastic, for example ABS. The parts will be held together by a white or blue silicone sleeve (also translucent to allow for a glowing light to shine through).

For our second user test, we explored different shapes and the way users interacted with them. Our aim was to discover which kind of shapes evoked interactions closest to our scenarios and why.


We asked the users first to hold the object for a while, and then how they would activate it. Squeezing, stroking, and looking for buttons were the most recurring interactions.



Then, we came to the Day for Final Technical Decisions, regarding:

– human power

– hidden features

– used components

– structure of components

– shape and material of shell


Maybe warming it in your hands would be more natural for an alien creature, but our users want to squeeze it, so they get what they want. Also, heat in the user’s pocket, from the sun, or from a radiator would activate Dzorb on undesired moments.

After squeezing it ten times, Dzorb will be activated using a counting force sensor.





This force sensor will be connected to one half of the shell, and pressed against the other half using a spring and a guiding cylinder.

Furthermore, the shape will be designed to invoke more interactions, stroking an interesting texture for example, without necessarily adding technical reactions.

Technically, we will focus on making the heartbeat feel like a real heartbeat, in the correct rhythm, instead of adding many more functions.

Looking for jelly materials, and Dzorb makes some new friends

This week, we made more cool sketches:


We researched potentially interesting materials:
We wrote a research plan:
or in English…
Our research goal was to find out if users understand Dzorb, and if interacting with him changes their perception of energy use and CO2 awareness.

Research questions:

– How do users try to turn Dzorb on?

– Do users recognize the (differences in) heartbeat?

– Do users understand that a low heartbeat means that the amount of CO2 is OK, and a high one that there is too much CO2?

– Do users perceive Dzorb as “alive”?

– Do users have the idea that they provide Dzorb with energy?

– What is their reaction to Dzorb? How do they hold him, touch him, etc?

– How do users expect that they can interact with Dzorb? 
The user tests:
The results:

User 1:

A bit scared of the device, electric shocks

Vibrates in a nice pattern

Holds it in 2 hands, plays with it during the test

Reminds her of a snake

Does not recognize heartbeat

Low heartbeat = sleeping

Faster = alert, it wants to say something

Fast = warning, situation is not OK, sounds like siren

Not providing energy


User 2:

Confused by wires

Understands the spinning (recognizes the spinning handle, but doesn’t think it suits Dzorb)

Red lights -> “is that OK?” -> CO2 is too high, even with slow heartbeat

Keeps spinning during the test

Confused by red lights: CO2 or power?

Fast heartbeat = Dzorb wants to be let go (but also CO2 is too high)

Doesn’t feel like providing it with energy because there is no resistance, seems fake

How to wake Dzorb up? Squeezing, because of the shape


User 3:

No screen? No feedback?

Confused by gap

“I cannot squeeze it or something?”

2 eyes

Wonders of what air the CO2 is measured, his breath or the surrounding air

Maybe shaking?

It vibrates, makes noise, and lights

Tries to put it into his pocket

Does not recognize heartbeat

Is not surprised it’s supposed to be an alien

Low heartbeat = it’s regular. “Will it go faster if I shake it?”

Fast heartbeat = it’s changed, the lights are brighter

Fast = it wants to make its presence more clear, but it’s not very obvious

Fast = there is something wrong

Also holds it in 2 hands, plays with it

Should it be in your pocket? Or do you hold it in your hand?

Not providing energy

Not very enthusiastic about warming it in your hands



With the spinning handle, spinning seemed an obvious way to turn on Dzorb, because of the familiar shape of the handle. Without it, users weren’t sure and used the shape as an indication of what they could do with it. Two users mentioned squeezing as a possibility. One also mentioned shaking, which he expected would influence the heartbeat (make it faster).

Users could feel the difference invibration, but none of them recognized it as a heartbeat.

All of them thought that a low heartbeat means that the amount of CO2 is OK, and a high one that there is too much CO2, but the colour and brightness of the lights were also an important parameter. One user thought the light was alarming all the time, because it was red.

The users did not really perceive Dzorb as alive. The lights and shape did remind them of various animals, so they were not surprised that it’s supposed to be an alien.

Users don’t have the idea they provide Dzorb with energy. They were not sure about our idea of using the warmth of your hands, and even spinning the handle didn’t feel real, because there wasn’t enough resistance. Two of the users felt more inclined to squeeze it.

The users mainly held Dzorb carefully in both hands. They kept holding him and playing with him while answering our questions. One of the users tried to put it in his pocket.


Overall, we can conclude that we really need to make a decision on the perception of a human powered device. Is thi sgoing to be a priority, or can we find another, more suitable way interactively speaking, to raise the user’s awareness of energy use?

Also, we need to add more interaction possibilities (as was our plan already) to give Dzorb more personality, and make it seem alive indeed.

The feedback is sufficient to make users aware of the levels of CO2 in the air, but the vibration pattern does no tresemble a heartbeat.

Too much of the product character and interaction qualities are based on the placement of the LEDs as eyes, while we want Dzorb’s shape to be stylish and functional –not animal or alien-like– with clear usecues for interaction, and this interaction to convey its life-like personality.

In our next user test, we will focus on this issue. 


More interactions!

some comic relief

During his lecture, Ianus told us that our concept reminded him of the film Little Shop of Horrors, which happens to be an absolutely awesome, crazy musical!


Grow For Me: 



Dentist Song: 



Mean Green Mother From Outer Space:




Galaxy Zorfnof, you’ve got mail!

"Dear Galaxy,
As you can see, I’ve arrived at planet Earth now! 
The weather is really nice, and so are the people. I’ve met this one special guy…
We have hour-long discussions about CO2 while enjoying a glass of wine, and indulge in the amazing air quality on our walks on the beach together.
I’m looking forward to seeing you again though!
Love, Dzorb"

Final Concept Presentation

In this Friday, we presented our finalconcept at the end of the day. It was a desk lamp for file permission. In thispresentation, we used a LDR, tilt switch and potentio-meter in this prototype.In the future, we will make our own lamp.


Nutcracking video:

[object:flash:http://www.youtube.com/v/HZQQPRQt0-U?fs=1&hl=nl_NL width:480 height:390]
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