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


  • 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


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 objects sense their movement with an accelerometer and react to this with light feedback (RGB LEDs). The objects are connected with wires to an Arduino that controls the accelerometers and LEDs. Each object is standalone, but the objects can communicate with each other. Some balls in the system will softly pulsate and lights will jump from one ball to another. 
The play objects respond with light when pushed, adding a sense of “living creatures” inside the balls. When a child subtly pushes an illuminated ball, it changes color, from turquoise to purple or the other way around. When a child pushes the ball a little harder the light will jump to another randomly assigned ball, as if the “living creatures” fly away. 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).