CPSC581: Tina Huynh



Are you stressed out and need a way to relax? Do you find yourself feeling detached from a feeling of contentment?
< YOGARDEN > offers you a way to do just that. Be one with nature, enjoy the simple things in life, and practice relaxation and gratitude with YOGArden to let your mind and heart at ease and restore a sense of comfort and well-being by building your own calm space, with a complete absence of frustrations or anything emotionally overwhelming.


Click here to be directed to the downloads page for source code and executable.


The Task: Create an interactive system that embodies HYGGE, using the Kinect.

The User: This is designed for anyone feeling stress, whether it be for students, parents, teachers, etc. Everyone at some point in their life has experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed and having their mind feel cluttered with endless thoughts. Especially from day to day where people are either busy working, studying, commuting, etc., it can be easy to get lost in the moment and focus on busy tasks and deadlines. In these stressful times, it is important for the mind and body to have a source of relief and escape. < YOGArden > focuses on those who need assistance in clearing their mind and becoming one with nature to tune out the stresses of daily life. This is especially designed for those who love nature and those who use yoga as a means of meditation and restoration.

Video Demo:


(n.) a complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming;
taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things. [s]

There are many variations of what makes something "hygge", such as warm candle-light, freshly baked goods, being surrounded by family and friends, etc. but overall it is about "enjoying life's simple pleasures, contentment, good feelings" [s] and "the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present." [s] Before the process of ideation, I created two different mood boards. The first one which is shown below focuses on the idea of coziness and warmth.

I then started looking into hygge outside of the house. I wondered if nature was considered hygge because it is such an open space and is separate from the busy world of technology and buildings. I know a lot of people who take nature walks to clear their mind and be one with nature to enjoy the simple things, so I looked further into finding hygge outside of one's home and the second mood board shown belown is a collection of the inspiration/ideas and examples I found.


The Design: < YOGArden > combines many different aspects of hygge to create one entire cohesive space that embodies this warm, gentle and soothing feeling. I took many objects from the mood boards I created and incorporated them into the overall scene, such as nature (plants), twinkling lights, fire, and the warm sun. I found a lot of outdoor elements to be quite more calming because at least for me, I am able to think more clearly in an open area with the fresh air away from computers, school, and my messy room. These are all interactive and make the environment more personal to the tastes of the user and can be adjusted to the levels that they feel is most hygge (since hygge is a personal thing).

I decided to focus not only on the physical items that are attached to the feeling of hygge, but the feeling itself of being content and putting one's mind at ease.

The Interactions: Overall I didn't want just the screen to reflect something to bring about hygge, I wanted the actions to be hygge as well. I began thinking of physical ways a person's body could bring about hygge (since we were using Kinect) and that's when I thought of yoga. As long as the yoga focuses on slow movements and restoring peace (rather than a work-out practice), I believe it would be able to carry out the calming nature of hygge. Hygge is all about being comfortable and relaxed, focusing on what’s important, noticing the simple things and being grateful for what you have. The yoga principles of self-love and gratitude are also foundations of hygge, so practicing yoga inspired by all things hygge makes an ideal combination." [s] I agree with this statement because both yoga and hygge deal with self-care and taking care of the mind. For Mark Atherton (a yogi), "hygge embodies many of the same principals that I look for through my yoga practice. I meditate, study and move in order to be present with those I love, to appreciate what I have, and to move through my life with love and warmth for others." [s]


For the process of ideation, I just thought of as many different ideas as I could that reflected some sort of aspect of hygge. They all varied in goals, input, and themes. I had some that used just the Kinect, but some included also the Arduino and VR for different interactions. Some ideas also included more than one person in order to reflect the social aspect of hygge. Overall, I tried to focus on the specific experience I wanted the user to feel and generating an interaction to go along with it.

1 / 7
The first idea involves allowing two people from remote locations to experience hygge together by playing and enjoying a board game. The second idea is turning an office space to something more hygge and bringing warm feelings to work. Uses everyday gestures to influence the space.
2 / 7
The top idea is a hobby simulator that allows you to perform hygge activities virtually without having to go out and buy the necessary supplies. The bottom idea is VR and Kinect experience that allows you to explore a hygge environment and interact with objects with body gestures.
3 / 7
The top idea is a hygge room decorator where the user can decorate an empty space with hygge items and add their own personal style to what they find most hygge. Creating a hygge space virtually allows someone to experience hygge without having to go out and buy the things. The bottom idea is a hygge baking simulator that uses body gestures to complete tasks. The treats that would be possible to bake would be traditional Danish goods.
4 / 7
The top idea uses Arduino and body gestures to decorate and explore different hygge environments and physically walking will take you to a new place. The bottom idea is an idea for two people on a date. The gestures between the two will influence the real world environment and set a hygge environment.
5 / 7
Top idea combines Arduino and Kinect. The scarf acts as a tool to provide more warmth and other hygge elements like sounds. The gestures control these elements. The bottom idea is a scrapbooking simulator. I find scrapbooking to be hygge because it is a relaxing hobby and includes creating something personal.
6 / 7
The top idea is a puzzle game simulator because puzzles can be hygge if they are a method of relaxation. The goal of this game is to build an object with the pieces. Puzzle pieces are controlled with your body. The bottom idea combines the Arduino with a stuffed animal. This provides comfort not only on the screen but in a physical object as well.
7 / 7
This last idea was a co-operative knitting simulation for two people. I wanted to again focus on the social aspect and have two people build something together.


From my favourite concepts, I went into some more detail and refined certain ideas. I started going into how I would implement it and going further into the experience I wanted to give my users. The ones I chose were the ones to refine were the ones I believed were interesting, fun, but also do-able within the time frame. I also had a good idea of the details for interactions and the objects for these ideas.

1 / 10
Refined idea for the co-op knitting game of building a hygge item (like a scarf). Goal is to reinforce working with another person and creating something fun with them.
2 / 10
Refined idea for the puzzle game of building a structure with your body. Each piece has a body pose on it and doing that pose selects the piece. Pieces can be rotated with body rotation.
3 / 10
Refined idea for the scrapbooking simulator. This includes another feature where capturing a certain pose will find a picture with that pose among your pictures and select it.
4 / 10
Refined idea for interactive stuffed animal that allows for physical and mental comfort. Body position will also effect viewing angle and even hugging the toy will bring more animals on the screen.
5 / 10
Refined idea of the hygge date environment for two where interaction between two people will influence the physical world. Some interactions include conversation, holding hands, and even kissing.
6 / 10
Refined idea of hygge room decorator where hand gestures control hygge pieces to decorate an empty space to your own personal style and create an environment of their own. When they are done, users can also interact with the objects they chose.
7 / 10
Refined idea for the hygge baking simulator where users can create a traditional Danish dish with body and hand gestures. The gestures would be similar to in real baking gestures like cracking an egg.
8 / 10
A refined idea that includes hygge elements of nature, yoga, and co-operation with another person. The goal for this idea was to make the interaction meditative and create the feeling of contentment and relaxation but also keeping in mind the social aspects.
9 / 10
Another refined idea of a puzzle game however for this puzzle, pieces would be in the shape of body poses and the goal would be to fit them together to form a picture. This idea was scrapped because of how difficult it would be to get poses to mesh well.
10 / 10
Refined idea for bringing hygge into an everyday space, in this cake the work office. There is a screen that displays a hygge environment and different everyday gestures have an impact on it, whether it be lighting stars or starting a warm fire. The goal was to make a regular place more comforting.


I decided to do a second refinement of my ideas and focus on a core concept I wanted to work around. This concept I wanted to emphasize was the idea of building or creating something with another person. While researching about hygge, there were many articles and definitions of how hygge was a social feeling that is shared amongst loved ones. Therefore, I wanted to highlight this and create ideas based on working with another person and co-operating with them to build something or at least share an experience.

1 / 11
Variation #1 is about building a cabin with someone else. Each pose creates a piece of log in that shape of the pose and this allows for unique structures to be built. This makes this a fun experience to create something with a friend or family member.
2 / 11
Variation #2 is about creating a memory cube with another person. This is loosely based on the scrapbooking idea because it incorporates the idea of capturing poses and finding a picture with captured poses to place on the box. This allows a pair look back on memories and relive them.
3 / 11
Variation #3 is a knitting based game that allows two people to "knit" an object together. Knitting is usually a solo hobby but this allows it to be a shared experience. The object is knit by throwing back and forth a cube which simulates string being passed between needles.
4 / 11
Variation #4 is a baking simulator for two. Loosely based on the initial baking simulator idea however it incorporates two people that gives two different people different tasks that when completed, will result in a delicious Danish treat.
5 / 11
Variation #5 is a co-op game for two. The environmemt would be hygge and the game character movements would be controlled by the users movements. There would also be mini games that they must co-operate to finish the map.
6 / 11
Variation #6 combines different simulations into one which is controlled with a cube with different tracking patterns on each face of the box. Each pattern will trigger a different co-op game that relates to the memory associated with the pattern.
7 / 11
Variation #7 is about building any kind of hygge atmosphere using interactions between two people. The physical environment is controlled and altered with to fit the mood of the interaction.
8 / 11
Variation #8 is about building a garden space with another person using meditative yoga poses to grow plants. Different poses grow different plants. With this idea I wanted to incorporate nature, co-operation, and slow hygge movements to build a unique calming environment.
9 / 11
Variation #9 is an idea for still connecting two people, this time for people who are separated by long distances and are in remote locations. This idea allows for communication without a screen (as an important feature of hygge is no technology) as messages are sent through sweaters. This builds a relationship between people without having to consider distances.
10 / 11
Variation #10 builds off on the idea of allowing communication between people in remote locations through Kinect and VR. It also aims to allow for the two people to create "a sky" together and decorate it/communicate with stars in any way they want to. This is done with the Kinect by having it track the wand. I also found night skies to be very hygge.
11 / 11
Variation #11 does not deal with building anything with another person. This one is another variation based on the idea of making a non-hygge environment, hygge. In this case, the environment is a classroom for when a student is stressed in class.


In the end, I decided to develop the co-op meditative garden yoga because it matched the most with what I wanted to have my user experience. I liked that it incorporated not only hygge on the screen, but hygge movements as well. Yoga can be considered hygge because of its slow movements and ability to be used as a method of relaxation. This helped me finalize my interaction with the Kinect.

The goal of my final idea was to allow for the user to build their own calming environment to de-stress and relax - an important feature of hygge. This would be done by using different yoga poses to grow different plants. The length for how long you hold the pose will also determine the growth of the plant. I wanted to make this a co-operative experience where two people would have to hold the pose at the same time. The two would have to make sure their moves were synchronized. The reason I made this a co-operative thing was because I wanted to keep the aspect of hygge being social. With this, users will have to work with another person in order for them to build the space they want to.

I also found that having nature included in my design would greatly match my goal for creating a soothing, calm space. Even in real life, I find open and fresh environments outside to be more hygge than in a room with a fireplace and many decorations because it allows the mind to clear as you are away from cluttered spaces. I find simple environments to be the less stressful, so I wanted to incorporate that in my final design as well.

1 / 2
The final design consists of interaction with the Kinect through capturing body poses. Different yoga poses will grow different plants. The longer you hold a pose, the more the plant grows. Your actions must also match your partner which emphasizes co-operation.
2 / 2
These are interactions I would want to implement in my final design. These continuous gestures would control objects in the environment, such as the sun, clouds, music, etc. I would also want to include conversation to emphasize social interaction and have speech recognition to have unique outputs depending on what is said to your friend.


Storyboarding was quite helpful in laying out the situation in which the user would be in when wanting to use my interactive Kinect system and also the motivation behind their choices. It also showcases how it works (without going into the hardware details), what the Kinect is capable of, the different user interactions, and the experience a person will go through.

1 / 1
This storyboard goes through the sitation in which a user would want to use this interactive Kinect system. This includes the location, time, and motivation behind the user. It also highlights key features of what the video will be able to do and how the user will go about using these features.


I then thought about how I could make this final idea even more hygge. I found that just a regular garden with dirt and plants could not be considered relaxing to everyone. This is where I made some changes to my final design by changing what the layout of the environment on the screen would be. I would include some more hygge elements from pictures that I found on my mood boards, such as fairy lights and fire/candles, that would also fit my garden theme. It would also be more of an environment with many features and surroundings, rather than a simple gardening simulator.

1 / 1
Changes include: more like an open environment world, rather than just a garden bed with dirt and plants. Added more hygge elements, such as lights and candles, and even a seating area with two chairs to emphasize the social aspect of hygge.


< YOGArden > was developed using Unity and utilizing the Kinect v2 SDK. The scene starts off with a minimal garden environment, as shown below. The goal for the user is to build their own unique and relaxing garden to clear their head.
The user builds the garden mainly by performing yoga poses. Different poses will grow different plants and the longer you hold the pose, the more the plant grows. An example is shown below. Refer to the video to see all the possible poses and plants.
This animation of growing plants was made by overlaying multiple layers of the object and having them appear one at a time. This was done by setting a timer that starts when the pose is detected. Below is a screenshot of the different layers of all the objects.
The objects I created myself using Unity's 3D objects built in were the main tree near the front and the terrain. Below is a screenshot of the added branches and leaves to the tree object in order for it to look more realistic and appear to be growing. The other objects were free assets from the Unity store (refer to the credits listed in the downloads.)
Aside from doing yoga poses to change plant grown, the user can also change the background scenery by stretching their hands up. They can also decorate the space with "fairy lights" to further enhance the mood.
A feature I'd love to further implement is voice recognition. In order to promote positive vibes and conversation with another person, the environment would change as a result of saying something uplifting or happy. In the situation below, when saying "Great job!" to a friend, the sun grows.
Overall, users can use this as a tool for relaxation, an aid/support as a meditation ritual, or just a simple environment for building a virtual garden. Please refer to the video below to see a full demo of the < YOGArden > prototype.


For the future, I'd love to implement more poses and more accurate detection of poses. I would love to create a database of poses that the Kinect can read so that users can do any kind of pose they know and it will influence the screen in some way. This would mean I would also like to implement a greater variety of plants. This will allow for a larger amount of unique spaces to be created.

If I had more time, I'd also love to actually implement the plan I had for involving two people. My overall goal was to create a meditative experience to be shared amongst people. Therefore, I would definitely work with the code more to have two people be read and make sure that they are both in sync in order for plants to grow.

I would also love to have it enforce more hygge if there were two people. This would be done by detecing how in sync two partners are or if movement is too fast. The goal is for movements to be slow to have it be more relaxing and restorative. I could implement consequences (such as awful sounds) to make sure that the movements are just right for yoga and make sure that hygge is imposed.