Gestural Blow Heater

A gestural interface for a blow heater

Backround

Our original intent was to create a more “green” version of an everyday electrical device for the home. We know that telling people they need to change their usage habits and be more environmentally aware is usually not enough; instead, we wanted to create a new way of interacting with the device. As product and interaction designers, we wanted to achieve this through the definition of a new behavior of the user and the object.

Why a blow heater?

In the winter, the blow heater is one of the most energy-consuming product around the house. It’s a small but naughty device. On the one hand, it really warms you up fast compared to other heating devices. But on the other hand, it only warms you when you sit really close to it; it doesn’t have enough power to heat the whole room, and it uses more energy compared to other heaters. Because of the heater size and its location on the floor, we tend to forget it on even if we are not around (or we leave it on, just in case we will be cold when we get back).

The method

By using light sensors and servo motors, our blow heater becomes responsive to its user’s gestures. Our hope is that interacting differently with their blow heater may increase the users’ attention to it, thus sensitizing them to its status (on / off) and its power consumption.

By following the hand gesture over the shutters, the heater recognizes if it should turn on/off. The control of the air direction also enables by naturally move the hand above it.
A blow heater that reminds you every once in a while that it there and its ON by “blinking” it covers (in case you forget, just like a small pet), or maybe a heater which “falls asleep” after extended period of time of working and you will need to “wake it up” again…

The design

Our Inspirations came from Wind, organic movements (wind over a grass field, water ripple), flow, magic, healing touch, multiplicity, adjustability,…

The first form of the heater followed only its function, and the components that must be inside (Arduino, matrix, fan, wires,…).

Conclusions

During our development of this project we decided to put more attention on the gestural interaction, and less on inventing an environmental electric device. We realize that to design an environmental friendly device is to design a whole system. Is to take into consideration the materials, technology and costs of production, how this device assembled and how it disassembles for future recycles, how it packed for transportation and so on…