What happens when two software engineers and one designer want to build something cool for Kickstarter? They build a connected IOT power plug. That's RULE, a power outlet which allows people to ‘hack' their home through easy logic-based programming that runs in the cloud. In the summer of 2016 we thought RULE would take over the world, unfortunately, it never made it to Kickstarter…

Team: Cameron Weibel, Luca Weibel

Collaboration: Viditeck & Van Berlo Eindhoven

Eindhoven, The Netherlands
June 2016

Power - WiFi - User

With smart devices, regular lights and household appliances can be controlled over Wifi, allowing devices to communicate with each other. RULE allows the user to create his own rules so the devices can act autonomously using sensor data from the home or data aggregated from around the world.

Connected devices can be controlled from anywhere and therefore lose their natural physical connection to interact with them. The plug is designed starting from the experience, aiming to make the connectivity of the controlled appliances insightful. RULE is in between the wall and the device of choice (a lamp, water boiler, heater, etc.) and functioning as a smart sluice controlling its power flow. The curved form and LED array visualize this flow and provide insights on the device's current activity. Animating the LEDs using time and directionality can provide an understanding whether the device is receiving, sending, uploading or executing a task in a non-invasive way.

Process is everything

My role in the team was the design of the plug. Although design for production was a new field for me I gladly took on the challenge. The other two team members were stronger in coding and worked on the app and electronic circuitry for RULE. We went through numerous hardware iterations alongside the development of software and circuit boards getting smaller while keeping an eye out for costs. Ultimately we managed to fit everything together and create a fully working 3D printed protoype. Thanks to our integrated design process, results were rapid - given our inexperience. After the realization of the sheer size of the project due to the app and planned app store that still needed a lot of work, we realized we did not have enough time to finish the project. I myself had to leave in order to take up an internship at Renault-Nissan in the USA, and could not continue the project. With that, our dream of RULE ruling the IOT-world died out...