Xiao Tan

Technical Artist, 
Creative Technologist

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After a mother hen lays a clutch of eggs, she will sit on them for 21 days until they hatch. Yet, it only takes 5 minutes to make a boiled egg.  That’s unfair.


Hen is a remote controlled device created by Xiao Tan and Shuang Cai. This project stems from our daily experience of egg cooking. When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is to put two eggs into a pot and start boil. Then I can do my morning routines and come back when the eggs are ready, a very efficient way to start a day. But what if I have to wait there and care for the egg rather then walk away. We want to reverse this “efficient” egg-cooking experience and turn it into something cumbersome. We want to exaggerate the moment of waiting, just like a hen hatching her eggs.

This concept is inspired by Chindogu, or the design of “unuseless” things in daily life. 


To start cooking, you should gently put an egg into the boiler before adding a reasonable amount of water that submerges the egg. Don’t forget to put the cap on. Then pick up the controller, hold it with two hands with care and love. Be patient, a hen would never rush when hatching her babies.

The yellow LED will lights up when the boiler is turned on. We choose yellow because it resembles the color of an egg yolk. A simple melody will also be played by the speaker inside, adding sonic cue to indicate that the cooking has started.


There is a MKR WiFi 1010 board in each egg. The one in the controller has an extra temperture sensor. When the shell temperture rises above a threshold, a message will be sent to the boiler to turn off the relay attached to the heatpad. The heatpad will then start generating heat.

The surface temperture of the heatpad can rise up to 76 degree celsius but it takes much longer time for water to reach a desired temperture to fully cooked the egg. All we can get for now is a soft boiled egg in about three hours, given that you have held the controller in your hands without letting go for this amount of time. In the end, it might be a good idea to pair the soft boiled egg with beef sukiyaki.

Hi, this is Xiao Tan, a New York-based Creative Technologist and Technical Artist. I focus on creating games and interactive experiences with new mediums, including physical computing, alternative controllers, motion tracking, live performance, and VR.

For further information, projects, freelance, or collaborations
︎tanx2202@gmail.com / @real.xiaoxiao