The Intelligent Play Environments project (i-PE) was about the development of an ‘inspirational test bed’ to develop fundamental knowledge, insights and guidelines for the design of intelligent, playful environments. This design research included playful persuasion, emergent behaviour and interaction opportunities that stimulate social and physical play of various user groups. The project examined how an environment should be designed to sense players’ behaviour and create appealing play opportunities. Furthermore, a tool was under development to measure the user experience. The interaction opportunities were designed in an open-ended manner to encourage players to interpret the possibilities in their own manner and improvise during play. Also, a decentralized approach has been taken to examine whether we can design a play environment that adjusts to changes in the play context, such as number of players and, or the configuration of play objects.
PSS concepts were used as vehicles of research, further developing our design philosophy for social and active play. Different play designs have been developed which support various forms of play, for example fantasy play and social and physical play. Furthermore, the design approach has been applied to other application domains, such as way-finding in an amusement park or a hospital.What questions are being answered?
Teams from 2 universities and Industry partners were working together to answer the questions:

How can we describe the user experience in order to understand how people experience PSS? How do people react to scientific research outside laboratory test conditions – in the real world? How to design playful persuasive experience; tailoring them to meet stakeholder requirements?
How can we measure PSS user experience dynamically and unobtrusively? How can we develop interactive experience assessment tools to explore children’s experiences? Which models are available?
How can designers successfully prototype PSS at an early stage, iteratively improve them and monitor user experience? How can we deal with assessing group-social interactions? How can sensor-actuator networks contribute to adaptive solutions and how can we model human-agent systems to describe emergent behaviour?

What have the teams achieved?
We have developed an ‘inspirational testbed’ to develop fundamental knowledge, insights and guidelines for the design of intelligent playful environments to stimulate social and physical play in different user groups

Timeframe and communication:
i-PE started in 2011 and finished in 2015. Throughout the project, we have developed and published on intelligent playful solutions, presenting these at conferences and workshops. Theoretical design knowledge generated by this project was dispersed via workshops and education programmes, resulting in business propositions. Progress was published via this website.

Who was involved?
Scientific partners: Eindhoven University of Technology, Delft University of Technology.
Industry partners: Kompan, Almende, NYOYN, Patching Zone, Eindhoven InnoSportlab, Sportcomplex Eindhoven Noord, Sports & Technology

Project leaders
Prof. Dr. ir. Berry Eggen, Eindhoven University of Technology
Dr. ir. Tilde Bekker, Eindhoven University of Technology


  • A research framework for playful persuasion based on psychological needs and bodily interaction Rozendaal, M., Vermeeren, A., Bekker, T., Ridder, H. de A research framework that relates interactive systems to behavioral change with psychological needs and bodily interaction as intermediating variables. Download
  • About Experience and Emergence: A Framework for Decentralized Interactive Play Environments. Rijnbout, P., Valk, L. de, Vermeeren, A., Bekker, T., Graaf, M. de, Schouten, B. and Eggen, B. A framework focusing on the development of decentralized interactive play environments for emergent play, demonstrated with two case studies. Download
  • i-PE: A Decentralized Approach for Designing Adaptive and Persuasive Intelligent Play Environments Rijnbout, P., Valk, L. de, Graaf, M. de, Bekker, T., Schouten, B., Eggen, B. developing design guidelines for designing interactive environments that stimulate social and physical play Download
  • Designing for emergent play Valk, L. de The focus of this study was on supporting playful experiences in different stages of play. Results show that playful experiences are supported by (different) design elements throughout the three stages of play Download
  • Guidelines to design Interactive Open-Ended Installations for children placed in a Free Play Environment Tiemstra, G.J. and Berg, R.M. van den a study in which we examine how children play with an interactive open-ended play installation. We processed the observations of children playing with SmartGoals (an open ended play installation) into a series of guidelines that can be used as inspiration for the design of future open-ended play installations. Download
  • Kun je jouw beleving meten in woord, beeld en getal? Rozendaal, MC & Vermeeren, APOS Results for Science Center NEMO of using the Photo-app during two weeks of fall holidays in 2011, published at the website of Science Center NEMO’s ScienceLive. Download
  • Wobble: Supporting Social Play through an Open-ended Play Environment In this paper we explore how to design for different levels of social play such as solitary, parallel and group play. For this purpose, we developed an open-ended play environment that supports the three stages of play: invitation, exploration and immersion.  Download
  • Designing for social interaction in open-ended play environments Valk, L. de, Bekker, T., Eggen. B. presents an integrated model of interaction and transitions over time. Next, it describes two design case studies of open-ended, interactive play environments, GlowSteps and Wobble, discussing how these designs support social interaction over time Download
  • GlowSteps, A decentralized interactive play environment for openended play. Valk, L. de, Rijnbout, P., Graaf, M. de, Bekker, T., Schouten, B., Eggen, B.  In this paper the interactive play environment GlowSteps is presented. GlowSteps consists of ten flexible tiles that respond with light feedback on player’s actions. Download
  • Designing for playful experiences in open-ended intelligent play environments Valk, L. de, Rijnbout, P., Bekker, T., Eggen, B., de Graaf, M., Schouten, B. This paper describes an explorative study with an open-ended play environment. An initial interactive design, called FlowSteps, was developed for children aged 7-8 years old. This design was aimed at supporting the playful experiences of curiosity, exploration, challenge, fellowship and competition during three different stages of play: invitation, exploration and immersion. FlowSteps was evaluated with twenty children playing in pairs with the design. Results show evidence of the playful experiences supported by a variety of design elements over the three stages of play. We propose that these insights can help the development of playful, interactive designs for open-ended play.  Download
  • Leaving room for improvisation: towards a design approach for openended play. Valk, L. de, Bekker, T., Eggen, B. Open-ended play with interactive objects provides children with the freedom to construct their own rules, goals and meaning. Instead of games with strict rules, open-ended play designs offer interaction opportunities as a trigger for creating personalized games. The process of developing these designs differs from designs with predefined use. This paper presents the further development of a design approach on how to design for open-ended play. We give an overview of related work and analyze eight existing open-ended play designs. Next, interviews with design students are discussed that illustrate the process of developing open-ended play designs. As a conclusion, we describe our design approach for open-ended play, including an improved definition of open-ended play, an overview of which design parameters have to be considered and advice for tailoring a design process to consider these parameters.

    Retrieve the article at: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2485771
  • Shake up the Schoolyard: Iterative Design Research for Public Play Installation Tieben, R., Valk, L. de, Rijnbout, P., Bekker, T., Schouten, B. Three different design research topics are presented in this article: how to design social and active play for teenagers, how to design for openended and emergent play, and how to evaluate interactive playful installations in situ. The Wiggle the Eye installation, five interactive wiggle benches and a central lamp, was iteratively developed and evaluated with more than 1000 users, at two high schools, one university and a design festival. The installation succeeded in inviting teenagers to play in a social way, yet the interaction design proved challenging: uncoordinated mass usage and a variety of external factors influenced the exploration and discovery process for the users. The presented insights serve as advice for everyone designing for teenagers, public spaces or playful interactions.

    Retrieve the article at: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2593980
  • The Richness of Open-ended Play, Rules, feedback and adaptation mechanisms in intelligent play environments Rijnbout, P., Schouten, B. and Graaf, M. De How can we design intelligent play environments for open-ended play that support richness in play? Rich play can be described as ongoing play that changes over time in character, form and nature. This paper elaborates on our initial insights on how rules and goals develop from interaction opportunities of the system, based on two pilot studies with an interactive play environment for open-ended play. Furthermore we will discuss the roles of feedback and adaptation mechanisms in the environment. Those system properties will change the interaction opportunities to match with the current situation in the play environment and to support richness in play.

    In press, not yet available.
  • Toinggg: The influence of an intentionally activity output change on creativity in open-ended play Hoeve, B. van, Valk, L. de, Bekker, T. Download
  • ZooMor: Three stages of play for a sleeping creature Paesschen, D. van, Graaf, M. de, Bekker, T. Download


  • Lucio

    Play is an important aspect of a child’s life through which a child develops physical, social, emotional and cognitive skills. This should therefore be a central aspect within the development of a child. Lusio is an open-ended. interactive, decentralized play design designed for children between the ages of four till twelve. The idea behind Lusio was to design a play object which would support children within different development stages supporting the differences in development. The interaction rules implemented in the play objects provide the opportunity to play alone, supporting parallel play, as the communication aspect provokes towards more social play. These objects seduce children to be creative, social and physical active. 
  • Inea

    Two INteractive Experience Apps (INEA) were developed to assess player experiences in different ways. With the first app, called the INEA photo-app, visitors could take pictures of interesting moments while experiencing the playing and report on their experiences by using text. With the second app, called the INEA mirror app, players were asked to match their play experiences with a set of predefined experiences that were visualized in the app using animations (i.e. mirror their experience through the app).
  • Trail

    Open-ended play concept for the Prinses Maxima Centrum voor Kinderoncologie
  • Wobble

    Wobble is an open-ended, interactive play environment, intended for children in the ages of 4 to 6 years old. The environment consists of multiple interactive objects in the shape of balls on a flexible stem. Children can interact with the balls and push them around.
    The play objects aim to trigger the children’s curiosity and fascination (invitation stage). When exploring the play objects, the children may wonder about what can happen (exploration stage). Subsequently, children are stimulated to develop their own worlds of fantasy while engaged in dramatic play (immersion stage).
  • GlowSteps

    The Glowsteps are a large set of interactive stepping stones designed for the development of open-ended play. Every stepping stone is autonomous and capable of detecting interaction, producing light patterns and sounds, and to communicate with other stepping stones. Technically, it is a decentralized platform for the development of play.
    Various types of play acticvities have been explored, such as action play, expressive play and interaction with a sound scape through the stepping stones