PreSense – Meditation Box

This project explored if and how sensing technologies could be used to spur engagement towards plants and environmental sustainability. As an interaction design research prject it explored more ambiguous forms of interaction and representation of environmental data. This was done through the iterative development of two functioning prototypes BotAnica and PreSense.

The PreSense prototype.

From designing the BotAnica prototype I got interested in breathing as a modality for interaction, particularly measured through sensing CO2. From the BotAnica prototype I learned that this mode of breathing interaction did not work so well for direct and explicit interaction (i.e., users exhaling directly on a CO2 sensor to affect the system). I thus designed PreSense –a system where the sensor was hidden away, and the system response came slowly after several minutes when the user had been present inside the system. From an interaction design perspective, I was interested in exploring gas as a design material. From a user experience perspective, I was interested in creating a calm experience where users would have the opportunity to reflect on the symbolic value of CO2 as connecting humans and plants through the process of photosynthesis.


PreSense is a meditation box containing plants, grow lights, an electrical tension meter hidden in the soil and a CO2 sensor hidden on a wall. Since higher CO2 levels implies that a human has been breathing in the box for a longer amount of time these levels were presented on a screen inside the box as a meter indicating ‘presence’. The measured levels were mapped to the length and color of the meter.

This meter could be interpreted as the length of physical presence in the box or a more metaphorical mental presence, since spending more time focusing on breathing and the plants can potentially contribute to a feeling of more mental presence and relaxation.

To encourage users to stay in the box, the plants were connected to hidden sensors in the soil that measured changes in electric tension. The measurements were employed to create a changing soundscape as the plants were touched or approached.

Video of interacting with presence.

The focus on medition is grounded in ethnographic observations of urban farms.

Anton Poikolainen Rosen: @Anton_P_R