"Durch den Wind" is an ambient desktop installation build for a research project. This project deals with the question:

"Is it possible to distract the user‘s attention in a desktop workspace by exposing him to a hidden air flow?"

To answer the question, we built a prototype consisting of two beautiful manufactured wooden speakers. They found their place in a desktop workspace and are equipped with two servo motors and one 12V DC fan in each box. With the help of a Kinect placed in the center of the installation the two servo motors can be adjusted in real time to suit the subjects head position. The fans are regulated in their intensity in a defined interval aligned to the head of the subject.

prototype box closed Pprototype box from behind prototype box open prototype box with inner workings

Context and Challenge

The desktop workspace holds a lot of challenges. In order to not distract the user it was important to design the speakers as inconspicuous as possible, but still with a high aesthetic level. To keep the air flow bundled as long as possible we had to evaluate a lot of different add ons for the fans. Because every surface has different properties, due to this we had to examine a number of materials with a different wide variety of air outlets to ensure the lowest air resistance.

In constant development, we have adapted and improved the cooperation between the servomotors and the Kinect. Thus, changes in the x-,y- and z-axis can be taken into account and proceed with the air flow.


printed tower for fans
DC fan with plate
MDF plate with material
MDF plate with holes
sheet material grid
iron material grid
final privacy protection cover
prototype box early version prototype box early version

The Conclusion

We were challenged to get optimum control over the air flow. Through many iterations and testing different kind of 3D printed add ons for the fan were now able to focus the air flow. Testing various air-permeable materials was also an important step for getting as much wind outward as possible, while at the same time having as little insight into the interior of the speakers. We completed this project within four months, succeeding in building the prototype and publishing a scientific publication.




Arduino, Processing, Kinect


Jonathan Steinkamp, Ve Grosch


Prototyping, Construction