A personal energy harvesting tamagotchi

Team: David Simon and Nora Gailer
My Role: I was involved in research, concept, (rapid)prototyping, material research & story writing
Created within: 4 weeks as part of the physical computing course, BA Interaction Design at ZHDK in 2015

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

As a friend or owner of Ivy, you're responsible that this small creature is fed with enough energy 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 Ā«EnerharvĀ». It used to live there with a lot of other Ivys. Together they provided each other 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 are 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 in producing its natural generated energy through Energy harvesting.

Ivy would like to make new friends and loves 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.

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

How Ivy survives

Ivy has different ways to ingest energy. However, there are significant differences between them. Ivy can be supplied 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, there's the possibility of 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 were attached to an Arduino mini.

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

Design decisions & prototyping

We ended 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 the hand and have 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 covered 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 regular energy sources with whom you can feed Ivy, the user is also constrained for more responsibility concerning this issue.

Ivy generating Energy through shaking

Wanna know more about this project? Just reach out !