Designing Product Interactions: Fall 2018
For a project in the Designing Product Interactions course at Northwestern, each team was tasked with creating a box that elicits a particular emotion in the user when opened. My team of three was assigned the feeling of confidence. We designed a box that opens when the user matches puzzle pieces with designated positions on the box, providing positive feedback along the way in order to instill a sense of accomplishment and confidence in their actions.
We designed and built a wooden box with five spaces for puzzle pieces on the front and a latch on the top that holds the box shut. Each time a puzzle piece is placed into its spot, the latch moves incrementally, reaching the fully open position when all pieces are in place. Additionally, an exaggerated latching sound plays when each piece is placed to provide the user with more confidence-instilling positive feedback, followed by a celebratory bell-ringing sound when the entire task was complete.
I was responsible for the mechatronics system of the box, which involved designing, wiring, programming, and testing the microcontroller, sensors, and affectors. I used Hall effect sensors to detect when each of the puzzle pieces, which have magnets embedded in them, is placed. The Hall effect sensor triggers a corresponding LED to illuminate above the puzzle piece, the latching sound to play through a speaker, and the box’s latch to rotate slightly towards the open position. I worked with my teammates to install the mechatronics components into the box and tweak the code to achieve the desired timing for the interaction.
We were successful in executing our vision for the box and saw that it evoked the intended reactions and emotions in users. It was displayed and tested both in class and at Northwestern’s Fall Design Expo, where users expressed that they felt empowered, encouraged, and overall confident throughout the interaction.
Microcontroller programming (ItsyBitsy/Python)