70 502 Interaction Design 1: Tangible Interactions


Passed foundation level. Suitable experience in interaction design for external entrants NOTE: this course is REQUIRED for Master of Design (Interaction) specialism.!

Recommended prerequisite knowledge

This course builds on some interaction prototyping skills, such as arduino learnt in the undergraduate course at AHO. Knowledge of this and simple electronics will be very helpful but is not a requirement. Regular design attributes such as curiosity and experimental outlooks are required

Course content

Interaction Design 1 - launches students into the world of interaction design by focusing on core skills and materials used in designing physical and digital interactions.! The course embraces and explores the creative opportunities made possible by recent developments in physical computing, sensor technologies and mobile devices, to consider physical everyday objects (embedded with switches, sensors and microcontrollers) as augmented interfaces for controlling digitally mediated experiences.

We focus on how humans interact with such objects and materials, and how their functionality, meaning and usage can be extended. The course provides students with the possibility to take part in an exploration of new social interaction patterns, to conceptualise and design demonstrators and working prototypes that address a unique set of design problems.! This is a practice-led course, and will also provide students with a broad toolset of skills and techniques relevant across the board in interaction design, starting with a series of short workshops dealing with a range of physical interaction technologies and approaches that lead into larger projects.

Students will have the opportunity to work with Arduino microcontrollers, smartphone, Processing code and a broad range of sensors for prototyping and design-testing.! The practical aspects of the course will be complemented by a series of lectures and talks by a range of practitioners and specialists in the field. Course tasks will focus on specific areas of application for tangible interaction; in previous years this has included museum exhibits, toys and musical installations.

Most students will then proceed to Interaction Design 2, where the skills learnt here will be applied to information and data analysis and presentation, using other interactive and audiovisual platforms – for example public multitouch screens, ubiquitous and mobile devices.

Learning outcomes

a. Knowledge:
Get an overview of research and projects within the field of physical computing and the history of tangible interactions and design; the approaches, issues and challenges faced by designers in the field.! Gain an understanding of historical and current technologies and practical applications! Develop a critical framework and approach for the analysis and discussion of work in the field! Understand the possibilities of working with interaction design within specific contexts.

b. Skills:
Understanding of basic electronics and Arduino.! All students will be taught methods and tools to make working physical prototypes, and gain basic practical abilities with electronics.! Explore and practice interaction design methodology, embodied interaction, realtime interaction and social computing in a physical context.! Design interactive objects with a focus on engaging experiences for communication, education and play. The ability to build experiential and testable prototypes to assess design concepts.

c. General competence:
Gain the ability to explore and understand connections between interaction design and industrial design.

Working and learning activities

Core components of the course are exploration and developing experiential prototypes of concepts. These are developed during the course by number of smaller projects that culminate in a larger final project at the end of the semester. The majority of the work will be done as pairs (different pairs for each project) with some projects of individual work and others of larger groups. ! Projects typically have multiple presentations throughout in order to allow students to see and comment on each others work. Typical weeks will have a presentation, possibly a lecture or workshop and then 1 or 2 opportunities for mentoring. Some projects may require a more intensive period with longer set hours during the week. This will be outlined at the beginning of the semester. The remaining time is able to be utilised as the student feels appropriate in order to develop the project, however it is encouraged that the majority of the time is spent working from the class studio in order to develop an inspiring and encouraging environment.
Work effort:

Students need to present and submit all projects in order to be assessed for the course. There is an 80% attendance rate required for all presentations, lectures and workshops etc. Students also need to schedule their own mentoring sessions. Non attendances below 90% need to be accompanied by a doctors certificate.

Curriculum, Workshop, Excursions and other support
a. The work and metal workshops are not used explicitly in the course but are of course available.
b. There is no organised class trip, but any students wishing to attend ARS electronica (www.aec.at) or other similar conferences or festivals are encouraged and allowances with delivery dates etc can be made.

Professor in charge

Nicholas Stevens

Mandatory work requirements

Work requirements Number Number of approved Mandatory presence Comment

Students need to present and submit all projects in order to be assessed for the course. There is an 80% attendance rate required for all presentations, lectures and workshops etc. Students also need to schedule their own mentoring sessions. Non attendances below 90% need to be accompanied by a doctors certificate


Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Prosjektoppgave Pass / Fail

The final assessment is either Pass or Fail.
Students need to submit all projects in order to be assessed for the course. Typical submission materials are an experiential prototype and a presentation along with applicable documentation such as videos, images, posters etc. The final project will provide a large part of the final grade and is assessed by an appropriate external assessor. However, in the event that the final project is deemed a Fail the previous projects will be taken into consideration and the student can still Pass. This is to encourage exploration within these short projects. Although students often work in pairs or groups, grades are assessed individually.