Throughout the Physical Computing course, I developed Huggie the interactive pillow. It started out from a wish to explore personal involvement with physical objects around us through an interactive artefact. “What properties should an object have to make it easier to get attached to it?” and “When does attachment take place and under which conditions?” are questions that triggered this project.
Huggie receiving its first big hug
Huggie is a pillow that reacts when hugged in accordance to your body position. If hugged when you are standing it will sigh to show it likes it or yawn to remind you that maybe it is time to sleep, and if hugged when laying it will play out sleep inducing sounds (nature sounds, music boxes, white noise) for a certain time then let you sleep. Having Dunne and Raby’s 2001 writing that: “Beneath the glossy surface of official design lurks a dark and strange world driven by real human needs” as a driving motto, the pillow should act as a conversational starter in this case, a dialogue with the user and its emotional needs towards the objects around him being the thing I am most interested in. Given the time frame and the resources for this project, I wish for it to be considered as design experimentation and not necessarily a scientific endeavour.
As a design strategy for this project I have chosen a project-specific linear strategy (Jones, 1992) which consists of three stages: brainstorming & bodystorming, rapid prototyping and implementation. Throughout the first stage several ideation sessions have been carried out and the best idea has been chosen. Through bodystorming I have acted out possible use scenarios and identified the project requirements.
Following this, a hardware sketch has been put together as part of the rapid prototyping process. Here is also where the main part of the coding took part since a similar setup was going to be placed inside the pillow.
In order to control the pillow behaviour a circuit has been built and placed inside an inner pocket. The circuit box is easily accessible through a bottom zipper. For this project the main components that have been used are an Arduino Duemilanove, a Sparkfun MP3 Trigger and a 3-axis accelerometer. Extra wiring, a 9V battery and a speaker are also part of the circuit, but do not play a crucial role in redoing the circuit. For programming, the Arduino IDE has been used.
The physical design of the pillow follows the body line in order to be as ergonomic as possible and to increase comfort when using the pillow. The pillow has been entirely hand sewn partly by myself and partly with the help of one of my colleagues, Sepideh Azimi.
FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
If the project would be continued, I would like to observe it being taken into use by people. Due to the limited time frame that the project had, its purpose remains rather conceptual right now. Another thing that would definitely need to be improved would be the shape and quality of the sewing of the pillow. Although I am pleased with its appearance now, if given more time and sewing practice on my side I am sure it would look a lot better.
For this project to happen our Physical Computing assistants’ patience was tested several times. I would like to thank all the guys for offering me extra technical help whenever I needed it. Also I would like to thank Sepideh who has taken the time to teach me how to use a sewing machine for the first time. Without her, the pillow would have been a lot shabbier. And last, but not least our teacher Johan for his infinite understanding.
Dunne, A. & Raby, F., 2001. Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects, Birkhäuser.
Jones, J.C., 1992. Design Methods: seeds of human futures, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., London.
//Ruxandra Teodoru, MSc. Interaction Design, Chalmers.