The living room: Tangible Explorations of the Symbiosis in the home

Air pollution, in the form of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), affects both climate change and general public health negatively. It is estimated that air pollution causes around 7 million premature deaths per year, and is the biggest factor that negatively impacts public health globally. Exposure to PM2.5 particles over a longer period of time heightens the risk for lung and heart diseases, including lung cancer. PM2.5 is often considered in outside air pollution concerns, but is also present inside homes, in the form of dust or mold etc. or created by activities such as cooking, burning candles or smoking, or it enters from the outside through doors, windows or leaks in buildings. In recent years new designs of air quality monitoring sensors have been put on the market, such as AirBird from 2020 and Birdie whose kickstarter launched in 2022, and IKEA’s newer product VINDRIKTNING, which present sensor data about air quality in the home in alternative, non-numerical, screenless ways. However there is a lack in research on how the shape and communcation style of such designs impact how users interpret, reflect on, and adopt the design.
As such, this thesis investigates benefits of representing data about the air quality in homes in alternative ways, and how considerations of sensor type, shape, and output form can be utilized to open up for users reflecting on their personal health in their homes and on environmental issues outside of their home. Based on findings from interviews and workshops I have proposed the concept of a decorative painting for hanging in the home, which measures PM2.5 levels both inside and outside of the home through the motif of an indoor plant which shows the indoor air quality, and an outdoor tree which shows the outdoor air quality. The leaves of the plant and tree then fade away and become invisible when the PM2.5 levels are higher than recommended. The leaves have been painted with thermochromic paint, which means that they change color and become colorless at temperatures above 45°C. I have used two heating pads on the backside of the canvas connected to an H-bridge and an Arduino which activate and set the heat levels through code. Overall the concept and the prototype allows the user to understand the indoor air quality in relation to the outdoor air quality, and reflect on how their personal health, the health in the home, and the larger environment is impacted by air pollution particles.


Maximilian Romeo Beuchert Rix


12 Juni 2024