The Ideal

Exploring the problem space of enhancing mundane spaces, our team decided to take it one step further to enhance mundane tasks in mundane spaces. From the many possible options, we chose something we thought ourselves and those around us would find useful – gamifying household chores. Our concept is a ball game, using common household cleaning tools as the paddles. For my individual focus, I will be developing a prototype that adapts the team domain for team gameplay.

Based on the sport of curling, the perfect solution would be having smart walls that both sense the paddles as well as display the ball and goal. The scores are also displayed, and the goal is strategically placed in areas that are dirtier, so it gets cleaned without realising. Since it is rather unrealistic, my concept is then using an app, where after the game is set up, the team leader uses augmented reality to see the goal and ball, and directs the other two team members, with cleaning tools. Like in curling, the ball moves toward the tool that moves faster. The team that gets the most balls into the goal within the time limit wins. The app also shows a scoreboard in real time to encourage competitiveness.

The Actual

full prototype full LED arrows functionality

The cleaning tools are assigned to the right and left and based on whichever moves faster, the ball moves in that direction, as shown in the diagram. The resultant force is then where the ball travels, meaning that if both are moving at the same speed, the ball moves straight ahead.

In the prototype, the arrows that light up signify the forces acting on the ball. If the right arrow lights up, it means the right paddle is moving faster, and vice versa. If both light up, both forces are equal and the ball is moving straight.

Initially, longer wires were used for increased mobility and range of movement in the prototype, but it affected the resistance too much, resulting in inaccurate results.

The two accelerometers I had were different and needed different code to get the acceleration for each. I took the values from one axis, then made the values absolute, since direction did not matter. I then compared the two values, and whichever was higher would make the corresponding light light up, while if both were similar or almost similar, both lights would light up. I also made a counter, that resets after the light lights up, ensuring that a single 0 reading from a constant speed would not affect the light.

I made the prototype for the app using InVision, showing how the game would be set up, with instructions on how to play as well as a leader board. The results and scores are simulated, as well as entering the code to connect to another team, a timer just being used before the game’s ‘begin’ screen appears.

Click here to view the InVision Prototype!

The Tech

cleaning tools arrows

The final product is made up of an Arduino UNO and breadboard, with LEDs used to make up right and left arrows on a board. I drew on the labels and connected the LED pins to wires behind the board. Two accelerometers are connected to the relevant pins, and each accelerometer is connected to common household cleaning tools, using double sided tape, allowing it the flexibility to be connected to any cleaning tool. The accelerometers I used are the MPU-92/65 and the Adafruit MMA8451.

The Design Process

original pong game how to play Vuforia Unity

Originally, our team came up with the idea of a pong game, that connected different household chores such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, and so on in a game that passed a ball between them, using a projector for the ball. Based on user feedback, concerns for safety in the kitchen led to restricting gameplay for cleaning. ‘Safety might be a factor to consider. I was a bit concerned when I watched the girl wave the knife around.’ This is especially since in an ideal world, the system would be able to sense the dirtiest areas, and the ball hitting those areas repeatedly would make cleaning effortless and fun.

Initially, the app did not have a ‘how to play’ screen, as well as the ‘leader board’ and ‘top scores’, which were also added after user feedback to promote competitiveness and incentivize users. ‘cool idea! I think adding some sort of score aspect would be cool, like a leaderboard to sort of encourage the users more.’ The sudden COVID19 situation and lockdown also meant that we no longer had access to the lap and projectors. We tried phone projectors as an alternative, but it only worked in pitch darkness, making it unsuitable for the game. It also meant that we had to develop different aspects of our concept, and so I decided to develop it for team gameplay.

Part of it, including another round of user testing, was conducted using a prototype made in Vuforia in Unity, since multiple users had also suggested that as an alternative. ‘You could consider AR to open up for multi-room play/inclusion.’, ‘I think it’s a fun thing to do when doing chores, but it might be very expensive to install this throughout a house? Maybe use AR/VR or something like that.’ That is what is shown in the Interim submissions linked below.

While initially it worked, as well as being able to sense multiple image targets for team gameplay, the camera was unable to allow full range of movement, since overly fast movements or rotation would cause the camera to stop tracking, especially since to fit in the full range of movement and multiple paddles they would have to be rather far from the camera. This made me change tactics, trying to find a different way that would still allow a smoother gameplay.

This then led to changing the concept lightly to resemble the sport of curling. It still allowed me to achieve the same goals of engaging team gameplay, as well as cleaning the house with an incentive. Players are still able to have fun and clean the house, while allowing freedom of movement.



Due to a change in the concept as well as how the prototype was built, I was mostly unable to keep to the success criteria I had written earlier. However, given the app with the built in instructions, I found that users were still able to get a feel of the concept when told that the arrows represented the left and right forces acting at a 45 degree angle.

As with the success criteria outlined previously for the app, all users were able to set up the game quickly and easily, as well as accessing various other functionality. Users were also able to understand how the game worked, simply by being given the app and navigating to the ‘how to play’ screen.

In hindsight, the drastic unprecedented situation definitely made the journey a curve ball to reach the final product, and I would have started with a more doable concept given my resources if I had known the change in situation. While I do feel that the actual final product could have been improved, the video of ideal gameplay, combined with the app and functionality done still was able to sufficiently prototype the concept to users to experience this concept.

It definitely also achieves its role in exploring the domain chosen, enhancing mundane spaces, as well as being a novel experience with technology, in keeping with the studio’s theme.