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
  • 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


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).
The INEA photo-app was designed for a small handheld device that players can take along with them. The procedure to report on their experience via the app involves several steps: Visitors first take a picture of the activity they are currently involved in, are then asked to type in a keyword that expresses the feeling they had during the activity, and are then prompted to use a visual ring for highlighting the area in the picture which produced this feeling. Moreover, players are asked to describe their engagement along four dimensions; pleasant versus unpleasant, mind versus body, doing versus undergoing and alone versus together. The assessment ends by rating the activity on a five-point scale according to how motivating they found it.
The figure below shows a storyboard of using the app.
The INEA mirror-app was designed for use on a tablet computer. With the mirror-app, players can match their experience of an activity with the experiences of an animated virtual puppet. The app has many puppet animations to choose from, expressing different experiences. For example, when experiencing an exhibit as socially pleasurable, a visitor will be inclined to select the puppet that displays socially pleasurable behaviour. The focus in the animations was on how the puppet interacts and what it feels while interacting, without using words. In total, it contains 24 animations that communicate different experiences, relying solely on the puppet’s movements and non-verbal vocal sounds (i.e., grunts, cries, laughter, etc.). The animations took about three seconds each and are looped, i.e., the animation ends where it started, thus allowing a never-ending cycle. Animations are grouped in six themes, inspired by psychological needs theory and each theme consists of four animations. For the theme physical effort, for example, the animations can be positioned in a quadrant involving high or low level of physical effort and be interpreted in a positive or a negative sense. Thus, each animation has a specific interaction experience associated with it, namely: either ‘relaxing’ (low-pos), or ‘apathetic’ (low-neg), or ‘energetic’ (high-pos) or ‘exhausting’ (high-neg).
The figures below show stills of the 24 animations, and the apps interface, respectively.
Both apps were tested with hundreds of participants in Science Center NEMO, Amsterdam.