Sep '16 - Jan '17 Reality, Study Industrial Design Project


  • Group Communication
  • Interaction Design
  • Programming
  • Prototyping

Thermow is a set of ‘smart’ pillows that act as a mediator between the central heating systemof a house and the user. When the pillows are compressed they become warm and tell the central heating system to turn itself down a degree or two. The pillows give both haptic and visual feedback about their state, enriching the interaction, and allowing for other IoT devices to use this feedback for other purposes such as media experiences.

Over the course of 16 weeks, we came up with the idea, experimented and improved upon it, and actually made 4 working prototypes of the pillow. These prototypes contained heating wire, a pressure sensor to detect the compression / hugging, a light strip and a buzzing actuator. We then tested the pillows in a user test and made some last refinements before demonstrating them.

The project started out quite amazingly, as I immediately noticed that this would be a different project than I would be used to, mostly due to the varying personalities of my group peers. We set out experimenting, creating rapid prototypes, and generally just saying yes to a lotof things where I was used to overthinking these decisions. It was a really fresh way of running a project. Over the project, I learned how to steer a group with very differing personalities to one end goal, which wasn’t always easy. Additionally I sharpened my Arduino and Processing skills by doing a lot of work on the final prototype and demonstration.