profileHello I am Robby van Delden a researcher focusing on embodied forms of play with impact at the Human Media Interaction group of the University of Twente. I received my BSc degree in Industrial Design Engineering with a thesis on the (re-) design of an intelligent lectern and intuitive presentation software. I then received a MSc degrees in Human Media Interaction and one in Industrial Design Engineering (Emerging Technology Design track). The combined master thesis focused on the design of a tangible rehabilitation game for children with a hemi-paresis and this resulted in a full paper for ICEC 2012.

My PhD research was under the supervision of Dirk Heylen and the daily supervision of Dennis Reidsma with lots of input of Ronald Poppe, and resulted in a thesis with the title (Steering) Interactive Play Behavior. The project was part of a large Dutch academic and (non-)profit organization ICT research project with various research institutes: COMMIT/ Universal Access for All, and focused on interactive play.

This research included two main case studies : 1) a large space where children can play tag in an interactive way and 2) providing a playful experience for heavily handicapped people using an interactive ball. Both include an attempt to overcome the large amount of sedentary behaviour in current society and might be able to provide a more social experience. For this, I investigated steering play in subtle ways, to encourage physical activity, encourage and change social interactions, keeping engagement high, trigger creativity and to make people alert on their surroundings.  For a small item with nice pictures see: https://www.utoday.nl/news/63932/The_Power_of_Play.

With this engaging activity I also obtained my PhD degree in early 2017. I am proud to say that the committee members included: `Floyd’ Mueller,  Janet Read, Ben Schouten, Peter-Paul Verbeek, Hermi Hermens, and Vanessa Evers. Also providing the occasion to organize my first small accompanying symposium on the power of play https://www.utwente.nl/en/events/2017/3/433526/symposium-the-power-of-play.

In my research I continue the investigations into steering interactive bodily play. Where I combine the benefits of play with the engagement of gaming and the possibilities of exergaming technology, such as the Kinect and immersive VR. In general the applications of this are varied.


In the last decade I was involved in obtaining various research funding (grants). In 2014 during my PhD-project together with Merijn Bruijnes, I initiated the *Bot project, which was granted as part of the COMMIT/ project (€50k). StarBot was a project investigating the impact of telepresence robots in everyday life, done over a period of a year. The project deals with 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. Merijn (and Robby over a telepresence robot) were invited speakers for this project at TEDx-TwenteU 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_DCyt732yk. More can be found on https://merijnbruijnes.nl/telepresencerobots/, more recently also indirectly (via a follow-up by Tetem) leading to this national newsitem. One of the results was this paper focusing on some ethical encounters, and the more complete report.

Around the same time we wrote a proposal for the GREAT project, based on several student projects mainly that of Silke ter Stal and Wouter Deenink, working with LEDGo and with Joep Janssen, then working at the Rehabilitation Centre De Hoogstraat. This initiated cooperation lead to a granted valorisation project GREAT also part of COMMIT/ (€50k). GREAT focuses on motivating adaptive interactive gait rehabilitation on an interactive LED floor, and lead to this paper where our suite-of-games approach was first described.

Via interesting encounters, as an extension of this interactive floor project I was a (limited) co-author of the ZonMW proposal Smarts Sports Excercises (€420k) “In the project, new forms of indoor sports training are researched. This is done in a “smart indoor sports space”. The playing field has an interactive floor capable of displaying video and real-time graphics, that is equipped with unobtrusive pressure sensing capabilities. A specially developed training system will offer interactive exercises. Direct feedback will be provided on the actions and performance of individual athletes and the team, and exercises will be adapted to this as the training proceeds. The system will be developed and evaluated together with volleyball teams of different levens, in club training and physical education”. For more information see the project page.

The first project (awarded end 2018) were I was Principal Investigator was Steering into the Flow, a cross-disciplinary project on spirometry for monitoring children with asthma with the use of ‘games’ (€70k). This proposal was mainly the result of working together with Mattienne van der Kamp, Boony Thio, and Alejandro Moreno.

After this I helped in setting-up the European MecaMind Erasmus+ proposal under the lead of Lars Elbæk and before that Dennis Reidsma (€ 300k). Which revolves around bodily creativity: “When we develop new artefacts and interaction designs for sports and physical activity, it is essential to involve movement in the design process. We believe it will make movement technologies and sports concepts more sustainable so that people in Europe become healthier, has fun, and gain well-being. We, therefore, want to make an interdisciplinary network across Europe developing method cards to involve movements in the design processes of sport, movement, and technology. Movement can be the target domain for the artefacts (e.g. the variety of interaction design for sports, health, and embodied play with or without technology). Movement can also be the medium of design (the body as a source of creativity, e.g. bodystorming, embodied sketching, etc.) regardless of the targeted application.”

I was part of a pre-proposal, that resulted in doing a small serious game project, Lupwalos, with ZGT and Conceptilicious (€16k for HMI) to motivate hospitalized people to move more during their hospital stay. Where we focused on researching the user preferences, usability testing, and applied motion capture of exercises.

A currently small project initiated by Janet de Boer is ACHIEVE (upto € 40k), in which we will use playful simulation, play, and/or games to help children learn about healthy sustainable food choices in the supermarket.

A small funded student-lead development project for the Boerenkerkhof “bringing stories alive” was a follow-up of the the Designing Interactive Course (Tubantia news paper item, student’s view), for which I helped obtaining some sponsorship (€10k), which also lead to another news item in Tubantia.


Mainly together with dr. Dennis Reidsma, Randy Klaassen, and Mannes Poel I have (co-)supervised about 50 BSc and MSc students on topics related to interactive play. Studies included mostly Creative Technology (BSc), Interaction Technology (MSc) but also (Technical) Computer Science (MSc,BSc), Technical Medicine (MSc), and Biomedical Technology and Biomedical Engineering students. Currently this lead to about 6 student co-authored papers.

I am mainly involved in Bachelor’s courses from Creative Technology and Master’s courses from the Interaction Technology programme. Since 2018 I have also been part of the programme commmitee CreaTe I-Tech.  I teach Game Design (M5), Designing Interactive Experiences (MSc), and am part of the Interactive Media module (M5), am involved in the course Design of Persuasive Health Technologies, and teach HCI theory in the Intelligent Interaction Design module (M6). This latter module is related to UX and focuses on grounded design decisions and evaluations of interactive systems, and I often discuss the counterpart of Business & IT and Technical Computer Science programmes (i.e. M6) with our colleagues. Furthermore, I also helped to set up (and until recently taught) first a summer school and then also a master course on Social Robot Design, and a course for high school computer science teachers about Games, Media and UX together with Utrecht University as part of the Inf4All project.

I like teaching about this mix of trying out, applying new technologies, showing and researching why this works, and in papers arguing for or against these solutions. It is a fascinating challenge to learn bachelor students design thinking, that it depends on alignment, that there are multiple concurrent good solutions, and going beyond our right or wrong educational premises. Occasionally I also give guest lectures on designing for special needs and interactive play.

I am currently happily employed (with a “permanent” appointment) as an assistant professor at Human Media Interaction (HMI).


In end 2020 I was first author of 2 journal papers, have (co-) authored over 35 conference contributions (including a few probably semi-archival papers such as workshop papers, short papers, and work-in progress). This includes first author papers on conferences such as CHI, CHI Play, ACE, AMI, Persuasive Technology, ICCHP, INTETAIN, and ICEC. Furthermore, I co-authored an ICMI paper. 

I have reviewed on invitation (and for most of them been asked more frequently) for CHI, CHIPLAY, TEI, DIS, CSCW, ICMI, DLI, and journals that are HCI-related journals: ENTERTAINMENT COMPUTING and IJHCS; or psychology and disabilities related: JIDD and JARID; and child (development and education) related: Journal of Research in Childhood Education (UJRC).

Furthermore, his projects have appeared in several news papers (AD, Telegraaf), TV-shows (RTV-oost News en Uit de Kunst), the national news (NOS) and a radio broadcast (Radio 1 EénVandaag).

For a full list of updated publications, see the other tab.

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