Your #1 Worst Fan

Made by paddepal

We all need space sometimes, whether physically or mentally. Our technology shouldn’t be an exception. This tabletop fan is designed to turn off if you get too close to it, so make sure you respect its personal space.

Created: February 21st, 2023



My project was intended to inspire people to think about their physical relationships with technology and be able to apply this to their human-to-human interactions. I used the concept of personal space in my project, a “human” idea, and gave it to my fan in hopes of making it more human/lifelike. I wanted to draw attention to the idea that it is important to give people and things space, and I did this by humanizing the fan and changing its core function to get people to change their behavior.



I didn’t really know how to use the parts given to me, so I got inspiration from the examples in class. The camera encased in concrete example that we covered really stood out to me due to how striking it was in its ability to be counterfunctional. I wanted to build something similar to make the greatest impact on people, so I focused on reducing/removing functionality for people in key usage of my fan. Since I had a proximity sensor, I realized that people feel the most effect of the fan when closest to it, so I wanted to reverse this. I initially went about creating a self-destructive fan, inspired by the chair with self-destructive joints example (The DRM Chair).



For my final prototype, I created a fan that would turn off when you get too close to it. I was assigned a servo motor for output and a proximity sensor for input, so I was able to use the proximity sensor to detect closeness and use the servo motor to turn the fan on. The device was built so that it would hang off the table with the fan on top and the sensor on the bottom in an attempt to detect when people sit at the desk, as it is ultimately a desk fan. I also added some aesthetic features like eyes to show that it was “watching” it’s personal face.

Any proximity sensor reading below the maximum was recorded as being “close.” This is because the sensor can only detect a few centimeters ahead of it, so trying to determine a range is difficult due to how small the differences in distance could be. When the sensor reads someone as being close, the servo is turned. The mechanism for the servo to turn on the fan is purely physical — I used popsicle sticks and other materials to build a lever that when pushed by the servo, would press the button on the back of the fan. This required the fan and the Arduino to both be plugged into a power source. The following are pictures of the final prototype, servo setup, and breadboard circuit.