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


  • 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 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


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.
As such, the GlowSteps are the first materialization of the hypothesis that for sustained social and physical play, interactive and open-ended play environments offer great perspectives. In an open-ended play environment, play is not predefined but emerges when children interact with the environment. The challenge for designers of such environments is to design for the emergence of play rather than to plan or direct the play activities. How do you design for the unknown? 

GlowSteps pitch moviehttp://vimeo.com/93355227
GlowSteps long moviehttps://vimeo.com/93350917