THERMOSTAT+ is a reimagined design of the thermostat that combines a digital display with analog controls. It was made for the Interaction Design Studio class at CMU, taught by Karen Berntsen and Lining Yao.
For my Interaction Design Studio class, I was tasked with redesigning the thermostat. Traditional, analog thermostats have the advantage of being tactile and easy to interact with. However, they are not easily distinguishable from other wall-hanging appliances and cannot communicate information from far away. Recent years have seen the development of touchscreen-based thermostats, which are characterized by dynamic, colorful displays — though they can be both expensive and awkward to interact with. I envisioned a thermostat that is a hybrid of the two, possessing the benefits of both and drawbacks of neither. In particular, I was drawn to the idea of designing an interactive display that benefits from the physical affordances of mechanical controls. And so, the THERMOSTAT+ was born.
The main part of the THERMOSTAT+ display has the shape of a thermometer, which allows its form to suggest its function. It uses only 2 controls: a 3-way toggle switch that turns on the thermostat and changes the fan mode, and a dial that adjusts the target temperature and displays the time required for the room temperature to reach the target. The color of the temperature indicator pulses red-purple as the room temperature decreases or red-orange as the room temperature increases towards the target. This allows the user to know whether the thermostat is currently in the heating or cooling cycle.
As a proof of concept, I built a foamcore model with an integrated potentiometer and switch circuit, which controls a projected display.
I used Processing to create a visualization that responds to input values read by an Arduino. The Firmata library was used to allow the Arduino to interface with Processing.