Robby van Delden


I am Robby van Delden, an assistant professor at the Human Media Interaction (HMI) group of the University of Twente. I received an MSc degree in Human Media Interaction and an MSc in Industrial Design Engineering (Emerging Technology Design track), and a PhD on my work on "(Steering) Interactive Play Behavior".  

I was born in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands at 1986. After finishing high school in 2004, I studied Industrial Design Engineering at the Univeristy of Twente. For my bachelor's thesis I worked on lecterns and software on touchscreens for presentations. Fitting my interests for new technology, I continued studying industrial design engineering in the master's track Emergent Technology Design in 2008. During this I followed several courses of the Human Media Interaction master. This soon resulted in also doing a second master's in Human Media Interaction in 2009. In this period I worked in several projects: a handout-based interaction for slideshow presentation, big screen interfaces for creating overview in criminal networks, a human-supported face recognition system for retrieving persons in social networks and an interactive bar installation (Anemone). I did a combined master's thesis on tangible interaction for physical and occupational therapy of children with cerebral paresis, which I finished in 2011. This touched upon topics such as participatory design, interaction design for children and intrinsic motivation by games. It also resulted in a full paper for the ICEC 2012 conference.

After seven wonderful years of studying and research at the University of Twente, the hunger for gaining knowledge in interactive systems was still not satisfied. Thus, I started doing my PhD on "(Steering) Interactive Play Behavior" .

Outside my study I have had several jobs. For about four years, I gave supplemental teaching to high school children in mainly mathematics and natural sciences. I also worked in some small projects such as support for development and representation of Intelligent Lectern Systems at several Infocomm shows (the world's largest professional Audio-Visual tradeshow), creating an outline for intranet of Hameland, creating 3D-animations for Next Scan Technology and 3D models for publications of Wageningen University.


My educational activities mainly involve Bachelor's students from Creative Technology and Master's students from the Interaction Technology (former HMI) programme at the University of Twente. I teach Game Design and am part of New Media module, am involved in the course Design of Persuasive Health Technologies, Designing Interactive Experiences, and the module Intelligent Interaction Design. This latter module is related to UX and focuses on grounded design decisions and evaluations of interactive systems. In this course Bachelor's students from Business \& IT and Technical Computer Science programmes also participate. Furthermore, I set up and teach in the course on Games, Media and UX together with teachers from Utrecht University, a course for highschool computer science teachers.

Often together with Dennis Reidsma and Randy Klaassen I (co-)supervise a number of BSc and MSc students on topics related to interactive play and gaming. In total I have currently tutored numerous (>20) student projects, including Bachelor's theses (majority Creative Technology and an occasional Computer Science student), and Master's thesis, from which three projects have led to peer-reviewed full papers. Occasionally I also gives guest lectures on other topics, such as designing for people with special needs, or the use of pervasive persuasive technology.


Overall my research focuses on combining the benefits of play, with the engagement of gaming, and the possibilities of exergaming technology. In which I address relevant, attainable, and measurable outcomes. During the design I am always looking at what is technically feasible, what has been done in related literature, and looking at what stakeholders (currently) do and want. For this latter aspect both discussions and observations are applied. During the evaluation I prefer to combine the use of automatic measurements, (direct) observations, discussions, and questionnaires. Preferably, by means of comparative studies (of interventions) where such combined results can convincingly show effects of certain (game) design elements. Simultaneously, I also keep in mind a more holistic view and realize that the design and design process itself inspires new knowledge, insights, and inspires new directions.  

My PhD thesis  focused on finding the right connection between behavior going on and ways to steer (social) behavior based on this. The envisioned socially adaptive playgrounds could result in increase of physical activity, increase the fun in play and increase people's social abilities (with all its psychological benefits). For the money oriented: this in turn could help to reduce health costs in the long term, but maybe more importantly improve the wellbeing and quality of life of users. Although, the main target group is children from seven to eleven years old playing in small groups, the research also included others at times. For instance, we worked on an interactive ball for people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities, to stimulate their mood, alertness and movement. We believe such interactive play can in the long run also stimulate feelings of autonomy and add to their well-being.

Designing interactive systems for entertainment and influencing social behavior in these environments is a new field in HMI. Little is known on how to design them, how to alter the system according to the identified social behavior, and what dimensions of play one should make use of for this. We made an interactive tag playground, aka Tikkertje 2.0, using Kinects and projectors, we add the attractive and mediating power of technology to the traditional game of tag. To get a better idea of what interactive playgrounds are you could have a look at the HMI master's-thesis and movies of Daniel Tetteroo, our Interactive Tag Playground website, or

The most recent project, Lupwalos, that I am involved in is about persuasive technology in the form of a game to get people motivated to move more earlier and more during a hospital stay. I was (co-)initiator and (co-)author of three accepted grant proposals (1.75 fte years), and gave valuable input on a bigger one (approx 6fte years). My first project built upon student projects that I initiated by contacting and starting cooperation with LEDGo, which in turn led to cooperation with Rehabilitation Centre De Hoogstraat. This project (GREAT) focused on motivating adaptive interactive gait rehabilitation with games on an interactive LED floor, which had a clear link with my work on interactive playgrounds, and which was included as Part III of my thesis. The larger accepted project, Smart Sport Exercises is also related to this but on from a sports and data domain perspective, here we make use of the power of data for realtime instructions for sports skill training. At the end of 2014 together with Merijn Bruijnes I initiated the *Bot project. `StarBot' was a project investigating the impact of telepresence robots in everyday life, that we did part-time over a period of over a year. The project focused on investigating the opportunities and the social, ethical, and technical issues that come forward when we start using these `Skype on wheels'-robots in our every-day lives, see the website.

I foresee a rapid growth in full body entertainment. In the future we might see more inclusive play, "the outsiders" being part of play, more physical activity, active learning, and increase in social contacts because of interactive playgrounds.