Niiir

 2018 - 2019
Collective coffee breaks with your team or friends in offices and schools are supposed to be refreshing by providing a stress free time for chatting and enjoying coffee. In reality, coffee machines require your full attention when choosing your coffee, pulling you away from your chat with others.
Niiir demonstrates how tech can interact with analog artifacts, in order to anticipate users’ needs. Thus users are permitted to continue consciously engaging with the world around them, no longer distracted by a forced engagement with technology.

Niiir was created during a semester project at the Weißensee School of Art and Design and has been exhibited at Ventura Future at Milan BASE during the Milan Design Week 2019.
See the first press release here.

#storyboarding #userjourney #processing #autodeskfusion360 #blender #arduino #kinematics #electronics #pcbmaking #3dprinting #cncmilling #lasercutting #woodworking #colorandmaterial #photography #adobephotoshop #adobeillustrator #adobeindesign
concept
My initial ambition was to design a table that would “magically” fill every cup that is placed on top of it with the correct coffee, all at the same time. This table thus should provide the participants with a collective experience that focuses on the coffee and the group of people rather than on the forced interaction with a coffee machine’s display or buttons.
This idea is situated in office or school canteens and thus I developed a fitting user journey. The resulting coffee maker respects the local infrastructures of people who move in groups and known cups that are stored in shelves. Here, the group of people is able to hold an undistracted conversation, since the coffee maker only needs two gestures: Placing the cup and using the canteen card to pay. Since the coffee maker is able to recognize the cups and thus the choice of coffee, no further interactions are required.
infrastructure
The two gestures of placing the cup/glass and the canteen card are the central interactions with the coffee maker. Because of this, I tested different placements of the two artifacts. Most important here was to reinforce the appearance of a simple coffee table you could gather around, so I decided to realize the single layer concept. In order to retain that visual simplicity, I also decided to move all the storing and coffee making components into the table’s stem, leaving only the nozzles visible.
This also allows for an internal infrastructure that is more suited for high traffic environments such as large canteens.
A quick test setup with a height adjustable stool helped to find a table height that would support the unintrusive use of the two key gestures.
mechatronics
This prototype shows a load cell being used to measure the weight of the placed cups and glasses. Since a canteen always offers the same cups and glasses of a known weight, this weight can be used to determine the desired coffee.
This method is fast enough to be convincing to users. I designed the table’s surface in a way that would obscure the presence of the display, making the text an integral part of it. If there is nothing to display, the display disappears entirely.
Since a screen requires focused attention though, there was the need for an additional, more subconscious way of feedback to the users. This simple motion doesn’t only confirm the coffee maker’s attention, but is also elegant enough to feel less mechanistic.
form finding
While I formulated and explored many thoughts in quick sketches…
…the key component of finding the coffee maker’s forms was the test with physical 3dprinted objects. The geometries are very dependent on the infrastructure, the motion of the arms and the context of scale, which isn’t explorable by sketching. I also modeled, printed and tested many iterations of the mechanics in order to perfect the arms’ motion.
This is the final assembly of the working printed prototype, excluding the motor, which resides in the slot shaped housing.
Niiir pouring freshly brewed coffee.
After preparing a coffee, Niiir’s nozzle is positioned over its drain, where it cleans itself, keeping the table clean.
Niiir demonstrates how tech can interact with analog artifacts, in order to anticipate users’ needs. Thus users are permitted to continue consciously engaging with the world around them, no longer distracted by a forced engagement with technology.
Niiir facilitates the relaxation and shared enjoyment every break should provide. It acts as a central hub for the interaction: while you gather around it to talk to one another, your cups communicate with the machine.
Simon von Schmude