Indicating temperature through shapeshifting
Thermoshift is an innovative temperature measuring concept which is based on "material choreography", i.e. material which changes its shape according to the temperature surrounding it. The intended use of the Thermoshift presented hereunder is measuring body temperature through mouth insertion.
The Thermoshift concept derives inspiration from the vitality of non-verbal communication in human interaction. For around 200 thousand years humans communicated with the world and with each other through visual and geometric analysis, colors and shapes. Only during the last 5000 years human interaction evolved into a numeric and writing-based interaction. When designing Thermoshift, I held in mind the intuitive senses, which are deeply intertwined within the human evolution, and especially with the way we view and interpret data through geometrical changes.
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The Thermoshift is made of two distinct shape memory alloy profiles, a circular one and a square-shaped one, each of which is transforming differently according to the temperature surrounding it. The circular profile reacts at 38° C by changing Thermoshft's tip to a pointy shape, and the square profile reacts at 39° C by swelling Thermoshift's tip, all in a matter of single seconds. Thermoshift's internal structure is covered with thermally conductive silicone, which is flexible, stretchy and provides for nice, gentle and familiar feel in the mouth.
Each change in the Thermoshift's shape is clearly felt in the user's mouth, while the swelling effect is naturally interpreted as an alarm sign, thus intuitively informing the user he has high fever.
In a neutral state, the THERMOSHIFT is designed in a way that invites the user to put it into his mouth. The shape was based on familiar products that we put into our mouths such as baby bottles and pipes.
If the temperature reaches 38 degrees, the tip of the THERMOSHIFT becomes pointy and genteelly touches the tongue of the user, providing him a warning that his temperature is rising.
If the temperature reaches 39 degrees, the tip of the THERMOSHIFT swells up. Swelling is naturally interpreted as an alarm sign, thus intuitively informing the user he has a fever. Similar to a pufferfish that swells up as a reaction to danger. .
In addition to the shape changes that happen at the tip of the THERMOSHIFT, the entire body of the thermometer changes its shape according to room temperature. Shape changes that serve as indicators of information create a new user experience that is new and unfamiliar in the field of product design. Therefore, there is a need to provide the user time to get familiar with the new interface and to trust the technology. The fact that the THERMOSHIFT also changes its shape at room temperature enables the user to be sure that the technology is working even when he doesn’t have a fever. The shapes are inspired by the reactions of animals and people to hot or cold weather; therefore they are intuitively interpreted by the user.
Sources of Inspiration
When designing the shape of the THERMOSHIFT, I took inspiration from flowers and branches that were frozen in ice. This natural phenomenon represented for me a combination of an organic, living shape and a transparent layer covering it. The transparency of the ice reveals an organic inner structure that has been captured inside of it.
The shape of the THERMOSHIFT is organic and it provides a visual explanation to the way it moves. I wanted to create an honest color pallet that will reveal the mechanism that is based only on material reaction, without any need for electronics, batteries, and maintenance. The THERMOSHIFT has a gradient color that changes from a blue color that is referred to medical devices, to a transparent area at the tip, which emphasizes which side has to be inserted into the mouth.