Prototyping an Interactive Experience

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Class Syllabus

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Class Description

In this class we will be learning how to prototype an interactive experience for a product, exhibit, or art installation.  The class will be an introduction to physical computing concepts, where students will learn how to read information from sensors to generate meaningful output for a physical display.  Students will be introduced to the following topics: 

  • Introduction to the Arduino micro controller
  • Basics of programming 
  • Introduction to some common electronic components that are used in prototyping
  • Debugging circuits and code
  • How to read schematics and data sheets
  • Introduction to various sensors: what they are, how to use them, when to use them
  • How to animate LEDs in various ways
  • How material choices affect the interaction or experience 
  • Usability Testing



Class Project

For our class project students will form groups to design an interactive LED light.   During the class we will go through several iterations of prototyping and usability testing to improve on the design. 


Class 1

  • What is physical computing? How does it apply to prototyping?
  • Electronics 101
  • Soldering Workshop
  • Introduction to the Arduino Environment
  • Programming Workshop 1: Variables, Condition Statements, Comments, and the Sketch

Class Readings

Arduino Booklet: Pages 1-19

Class 2

  • Electronic Components
  • Programming Workshop 2: Loops, Arrays, Functions
  • Analog Input and Output.

Class Readings


  1. Form groups and come up with an idea for the type of light you want to design.  Is it a task light? Mood light? For an environment? Take pictures of interesting light/ lights effects around town.
  2. Set up a blog for your project.  

Class 3

  • Present project Ideas
  • Data Sheet and Schematic Workshop
  • Introduction to both simple and complex sensors


  1. Pick a sensor for your light and integrate it with and LED
  2. Post schematic and data sheets to your blog
  3. Take pictures of your circuit
  4. Post your code

Class 4

  • Debugging Electronics
  • Debugging Code

Class 5

  • Present your Sensor and LED Circuit
  • Interaction Critique
  • Animating with Light
  • Material Exploration


  1. Explore Materials for your lamp
  2. Explore different types of animation

Class 6

  • Critique of Material Selection
  • Planning a Usability Test

Class 7 

  •  Usability Test 1

Class 8 

  • Discuss UT Results
  • Update prototype based on UT results


  • Post UT Video
  • Write up of test results

Class 9

  • Form Critique
  • Advanced Concepts
  • Motor Control 
  • Processing

Class 10 

  • UT 2 


Post UT Test Results

Class 11

  • Final Presentation

Written by tankstar

August 31, 2008 at 7:33 am

Posted in Class Materials