Interaction Designer & STEM Educator
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Product Design

Product design to inspire interaction regardless of use. 

Katlin Walsh - Interaction Designer & STEM Educator

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The Useless Machine

Physical Computing, Product Design, Team Work


Proposed Client

Aged 19-24 Minimalists



Katlin Walsh & Caleb Jones


5 Weeks 

My Roles

Product Designer, Physical Computing Code & Assembly



00 Problem Overview

Mesmerizingly Useless

A light that doesn't stay lit, but still captures your attention. The useless machine aims to force a user to interact with it, randomly responding with different light colours. 

Product Goals

Create a simple product that inspires interaction regardless of functional use. Use minimalist design, in combination with coloured light to alter the overall look of the design.

Wireframe 03: Summary Screen

01 Benchmark Studies

Light, Sound, and Motors


A series of Red Green Blue (RGB) LEDs were used to create variation in colouring. 


Using a combination of balsa wood, opaque plexiglass, and white thread, a simplistic material pallet was maintained.


Form studies on speakers and 3D tessellations were investigated to create geometric forms that were open and light feeling. 


02 technical drawings

Model Drawings

Solidworks Models

Models were created using Solidworks Parts and Assembly modes. Drawings were then created for the final assembly, with dimensions added for recreation of the project in the future. 


Caleb Jones created the isometric drawings pictured in Adobe Illustrator for an accurate perspective view.

Laser Cutting

Files were exported into illustrator, and prepped for being laser cut with a Tortec 400. All items for the base were cut out of opaque white plexiglass, while the balls were cut with plywood as the base material.


04 Physical Computing

Simple Circuits

arduino circuits

A small circuit was created with Arduino which connected 3 RGB LEDs and a button. When pressed, the button would generate 3 random colours.


05 Form Construction

Purposely Tangled

Weaving Patterns

The three balls were created using different patterns to generate various patterns when the light is turned on.

Experimentation of Tan, White, and Black strings were used in order to test the highest range of colour variations when lit.


06 Final Piece

Useless Machine

The final machine was assembled and mounted to each pedestal, with a hidden compartment within the stand that would hold the Arduino when the machine is powered on.

Beyond: Useless Machine

Moving forward, a smaller computer would be used to create a more compact rendering, in addition to a series of lamps with varying shapes and sizes.