IVY – A personal energy harvesting tamagotchi

Physical Computing



Designed together with David Simon and Nora Gailer

My role in the project: research, concept, (rapid)prototyping, material research & story writting

4 weeks physical computing course, BA Interaction Design at ZHDK in 2015

Ivy is a creature from a far planet that needs energy sources to survive. We differentiate between two different kinds of energy sources. On on side, self-harvested and -generated electricity, like wind-, solar power, or kinetic energy. On the other side conventional electricity from the socket.

As a friend or owner of Ivy, you're responsible that this small creature is fed with enough energy in order to survive.

Ivy should draw attention to our general energy consumption and the energy sources we are using. Our goal is to sensitize someone in a very playful manner on this topic.

Influence of You in the current service
Ivy is designed to be a daily companion

Introducing Ivy

Ivy is a small creature from a distant planet called «Enerharv». It used to live there with a lot of other Ivys. Together they provided eachother with harvesting energy through extracting residual energy.

When Ivy was on a mission to discover more energy paths, it landed on the planet earth. Here it quickly got in touch with electricity from sockets. But the amount and kind of this energy is not healthy for Ivy, although Ivy needs electricity to survive. Too much and unhealthy energy however is bad for Ivy. At this moment Ivy is on its own and has difficulties to produce its familiar generated energy through Energy harvesting.

Ivy would like to make new friends and likes to play. You can help Ivy to survive and at the same time learn more about harvesting fresh energy for yourself. Let Ivys inner light shine forever.

How Ivy survives

You Personas
Sketch of how Ivy stays alive and is fed with electricity from various sources

Ivy has different ways to ingest energy. However there are significant differences between them. Ivy can be fed with self generated electricity. It is used to this source of energy and thereby this kind of energy makes Ivy happy and healthy. On the other hand theres the possibility to fed Ivy with electricity from sockets. Like sugar for humans, a too high level of this electricity can be dangerous for Ivy.

We used one LED to display the different frames of mind and various sensors for generating energy. A small generator was used to harvest the produced energy. All elements where attached to a Arduino mini.

Ivy Prototyping Ivy Prototyping Ivy Prototyping
Prototyping with material and arduino and various sensors to generate energy

Design decisions & prototyping

We endet up with a round creature with four legs and a corrie in the size of a thump which represents its face. Ivy should look abstract, small and handy with an own character. The affordance of the corrie was later used to trigger a status request for the condition of Ivy.

Ivy should feel good in hand and have a soft skin. An outer shell should as well protect the inner life of Ivy. After a lot of tryouts with different materials and ways to coat Ivy, we came up with a 3D printed form of Ivy and coated it with a thin layer of silicone.

Influence of You in the current service
Ivy placed on a desktop overlooking daily acitivites of its owner

The role of Ivy

Within four weeks, we produced a first working prototype of Ivy. It was already possible to generate electricity through shaking, stomping and throwing Ivy around. It is also possible to connect Ivy to a solar panel or on a socket. Still we need to put some more time into the haptic of Ivy as well as first user tests to generate insights into the social intercourse, sensibility and communication between Ivy and you as his new friend.

We think that, within a playful way, it is possible to draw more and new attention to our own energy consumption and to raise the awareness of other sustainable energy sources. Through the free choice between self harvesting- and normal energy sources with whom you can feed Ivy, the user is also constrained for more responsibility concerning this issue.

Ivy generating Energy through shaking

Now it’s your turn, say Hi or just give me a digital highfive 👋 let’s act now!