Spatial Interaction : Touchless interaction for a kitchen tap

The goal of this graduation thesis project was to discover meaningful gestures to control a kitchen tap. Within the space around the tap gestures can be performed to yield a variety of cold water, hot water, multi-stream water flow (shower-like flow)  or a single-stream water flow.

Meaningful gestures mean that the action required to control a function of a product  need to be coupled to that function. In other words, if I want water to come out of the tap I perform a gesture along the side of the tap towards me, as if I am dragging the water out or saying 'come to me'. If I want the water to stop running I perform the same gesture away from me, as if I am pushing the water back into the tap. The shape of the tap has been designed to support this type of interaction as well as communicating the functions and action possibilities.

I built a completely working prototype of the tap with an enclosure milled out of a single block of Corian. This material emphasizes the hygienic benefits that come with touchless interaction with a kitchen tap due to its non-porous and highly durable characteristics.

This project was sponsored by the Dutch Corian specialist CoproNed BV

To be able to experience and test the proposed design and the theory of interaction behind it, a fully working prototype was needed. I started with the electronics and the technical part to make sure that works fine. This eventually involved two arrays of infra-red distance sensors to recognize the hand gestures and a home-made water control system using servos, copper tubing, solenoid valves, ball valves and a lot of patience and persistence.

The final prototype of the tubing and sensors was carefully measured and converted into a 3D CAD model. Around this model the final design of the tap's enclosure was modeled. This was sent to the workshop to mill a single block of DuPont Corian into the enclosure.

CAD model of the tubing with the lines that define the form of the tap

The final CAD model

Movie clip of a part of the milling process

The real tap prototype

Demonstration video of the technical prototype

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