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Spv: Yann Seznec

Project 1: Two Player Toaster: Designing games for the sustainable household


Energy provides heating, lighting and more, but it affects the environment. In Europe, households account for 25% of the energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Residential energy feedback could contribute to 5%–10% energy consumption reduction, but there are several barriers including those related to user behaviour. Visualisations of energy costs and savings are not enough: interventions must be tailored, frequent and engaging.
Playful interventions and games provide a powerful method of interaction that can surprise, delight, and ultimately engage users. In particular, games that use alternative controllers and sound can be both novel and disarming, resulting in greater involvement in a project. This project aims to apply this design approach to household objects in order to explore the potential for deeper user interaction with their lived environment.
Your work will inform research done in the Sound for Energy project .


Your aim is to research and design an interactive multiplayer sound game that uses existing household interactions and objects, for example toaster, coffee machine, hair dryers, water taps, microwave, etc. You will be converting an everyday appliance into a gaming platform, piggybacking on everyday user actions to create a playful sonic environment. You should consider how to harness existing interactions and life schedules to create a game-like experience. The resulting game should use sound as the primary interface for play, however a small screen or other interfaces might be added too.

This could take the form of an alternative controller (alt.ctrl) game, which uses a household appliance as the interface for controlling a digital game, or a game built entirely out of sounds collected from a household environment and shared and played on a tablet or computer. For some inspiration about (alt.ctrl) games see: https://shakethatbutton.com
But other formats can be explored too.
Research Method

This project will involve researching how gamification might a useful approach when aiming to increase awareness about energy consumption in the household, creating a game prototype and evaluating it in terms of system functionality, and in terms of sonic user experience. We envisage that you will use hardware such as microcontroller systems like Arduino, Teensy, or Makey Makey, as well as software such as Unity, Processing, and Pure Data.
The prototype developed will be evaluated through play testing as well system testing. We envisage to gather both quantitative and qualitative data also through post playing interviews.
Background Materials

  • Lockton, Dan, et al. "Powerchord: Towards ambient appliance-level electricity use feedback through real-time sonification." International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing and Ambient Intelligence. Springer, Cham, 2014.
  • Groß-Vogt, Katharina, et al. "Augmentation of an institute’s kitchen: An ambient auditory display of electric power consumption." Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018.
  • Fijnheer, Jan Dirk, and Herre Van Oostendorp. "Steps to design a household energy game." International conference on games and learning alliance. Springer, Cham, 2015.

Supervisors: Yann Seznec and Sandra Pauletto