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SleepMate is an emotional companion designed to help people finding their optimal sleep rhythm and behavior. It is driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and embodies its character through shape, the tactility of its surface, its behavior in movement and feedback through light and sound.


into things :: living with a bot 

designing an emotional relationship

In 2030, home equipped with different forms of bots might become the norm. Given the advantage of AI and machine learning, how would the relationship between humans and bot evolve? What are the alternative narratives of the co-existence or even symbiotic relationship in our future home?



The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) to the homes and personal lives of people can be observed in most branches of consumer electronics today: Voice-activated assistants featuring AI, like Alexa or Google Home, reach a wide range of customers, nearly everyone knows Spotify’s suggestions for personalized playlists, and the number of personal devices using AI is increasing massively. 

This is changing the way of how people do interact with their devices. In most cases, the user does interact with the AI through voice but does not have the ability to view its working principles or influence its character directly.


Sleep is crucial for our mental and physical restoration, information processing and our long-term health. Contrary to that, the amount of sleep people get has been decreasing for years. In addition many people have bad sleed habits like snoozing, variing sleep and wakeup times and the use of electronic devices before bed.

User Research

In the iterative design process, we used the diary method to get insights into the sleep behavior of various demographic groups. Based on that data we developed a user journey and an empathy map to find out the key points of users in the process of sleeping from going to sleep to waking up.

Diary Study

To gather insight about sleep behaviour and habits before going to sleep/after waking up, a diary study was conducted. The group of participants consisted of 21 people with various sociodemographic backgrounds. Over the course of one week, they were given the same five questions about their habits and sleep behaviour every day via a WhatsApp text message at the same time in the morning. The usage of text messages enabled the possibility to get direct feedback from the participants after they woke up while keeping the effort simple and personal enough to get deep insights on their sleep behaviour.

SleepMate Diary Method Participants.pngSleepMate Diary Method Participants.png
SleepMate Diary Method Questions.pngSleepMate Diary Method Questions.png
SleepMate Diary Method Results.pngSleepMate Diary Method Results.png

User Journey

SleepMate User Journey.pngSleepMate User Journey.png

Research Question

How can an AI companion be embodied, so that it communicates its character through shape, the tactility of its surface, its behaviour in movement and feedback through light and sound with the possibility of user interaction?


Sleep Mate is an emotional companion designed to help people to find their optimal sleep rhythm and behaviour. It communicates its character through shape, the tactility of its surface, its behaviour in movement and feedback through light and sound. It is backed by an AI concept giving context and an overview of the data flow for the scenario of waking up and going to sleep.

AI Concept

SleepMate acquires the user‘s fitness, social, productivity, calendar, health, and sleep data, as well as data about the usage of technical devices. Additionally, external databases are used as a reference. The AI then generates personalized recommendations for going to sleep, the duration of sleep and waking up, which are improved by continuous machine learning.

SleepMate AI Concept.pngSleepMate AI Concept.png

AI Character Influence

Users can participate in the complex decision making of the AI by exchanging the top part of the SleepMate. Depending on the chosen cap the different character traits of the AI are shifted in a specific direction which significantly affects the way in which SleepMate works, for example waking you up.

SleepMate AI Character.pngSleepMate AI Character.png

Design Concept

SleepMate‘s design is strictly reduced to focus on the different embodied caps and their influence on the AI. By using wood as the material for the base it gets a warm and familiar appearance. In contrast the caps are made of a white synthetic material which visualizes the AI but also gives a nice and soft touch. Through the use of light, movement and sound SleepMate gets a vivid and lively appereance and character.



Master Interaktion Design

Art des Projekts

Studienarbeit im Masterstudium


foto: Prof. Steffi Hußlein foto: Yedan Quian foto: BMW Group Designworks

Zugehöriger Workspace

into things :: living with a bot - designing an emotional relationship


Sommersemester 2019