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"RowBot" was created during the course "Designing with complex sensors" during my first year of Masters in Industrial Design. 


The main goal of the course was to learn how to design and test an interactive system that involves complex sensing. When rowing on a rowing machine, it is not possible for the rower to control music, since his hands are always occupied during the workout. When the rower wants to skip a song, change volume or pause the music for a moment, he will always have to (momentarily) stop his workout to control his music player. For ROWbot, new interaction styles were explored that enable users to interact with a music player system while continuing their workout.
While rowing, the whole body is being used, except for the head which can move freely to a certain extent. Also interaction through speech recognition, a rapidly developing technology, could be seen as an opportunity to interact with the music player. Both interactions - through head-movements and through voice - have benefits and downsides. This project investigated the opportunities and limitations to use both head movements and speech recognition to control a system.
ROWbot utilizes a Kinect to keep track of the user’s head-movements and speech. Furthermore, ROWbot uses a screen, attached to the rowing machine, to display a graphical user interface which visualizes the different functions that can be used.


RowBot was a team project on which i worked together with Steffen Hartmeyer, Lara Leijtens, Suzanne Vugs and Ferdi Zwaan, Industrial design graduate students. My main roles within the project were:



dealing with the face detection algorithm in Processing

gathering participants and data in a field study, analyzing the data and writing a report

identifying the design opportunity, ideating, testing the feasibility of the concept, designing the user interface


I have worked with the body detection function of Kinect before POZE and I have used this course to help me discover more the possibilities of this sensor. I have also helped my teammates understand the sensor and its limitations and integrate it well into the concept. If you wish to read more about the process and the user tests of RowBot, take a look at this document:


user & society

Just like in ChoreoAssist, the idea of using sports as a context came from my personal experience. I am an avid rower in the gym. The music is a big part of the rhythm of the workout and I have always had this problem where controlling the music is not possible unless the workout is paused. I used a 1st person perspective when ideating, but also when assessing the feasibility of the concept by trying out different head movements, hands movements and knee movements while rowing in order to see which movements are less intrusive and uncomfortable. 

I was also part of both quantitative experiments and helped in gathering participants and walking them through the procedure. 

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