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Watts Down & Flow

Watts Down and Flow are the result of design explorations regarding growing IoT systems conducted in the context of the smart home. Together with five other students, I designed three products: 1) a system of localised, tangible adapters designed to create awareness of power usage, 2) a central tangible interface aimed to facilitate discussion and community goal setting around water usage, and 3) a combination of these two devices in one central piece. The design cases as presented had a special focus on rich and embodied interactive systems in order to reflect on possibilities and constraints regarding these subjects. This image shows an overview of all three design explorations as documented in the final report of this course. Our conclusion was the following: “we believe that there is a place for rich interaction in growing systems if: complexity is handled well, the premise of a growing system is balanced with the rich interaction paradigm as well as possible, and a bridge to reality is made.” The title we gave our project report was: ‘Yes, but… It depends’, which I find a suitable quote to describe the ever promising but complex design space of current age. 

Creativity and aesthetics

This course stimulated me to improve my skills regarding physical product design with rich interactions. I also studied natural interaction and what this can mean for the relationship that users have with the products they use. Think of affordances, conventions, semantics and feedforward. I think topics like these fit well with my professional identity and vision, because it connects to the idea that designs and products should complement users rather than disturb them. I believe that when an interaction feels natural and can be performed without thinking, a step towards calm technology is taken. In the thorough, extensive brainstorming sessions with my team members, we delved deeper into the meaning of product design, exploring emergent functionalities and design implications beyond the scope of the design. Debating about sometimes complex matters like these have strengthened my knowledge of design and challenged me to consider the concepts and designs I create in further depth.

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