Design exploration through interactive prototypes using sensors and microcontrollers

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2 Scopus citations


Smart products, adaptive designs, and intelligent spaces are in the forefront of current artistic discourse. Regardless of one's field - design or science - interaction design projects often benefit from efficient production methods for prototypes for beginners. This paper presents an educational case study and its pedagogical lessons from a project-based course for beginning design students to produce interactive prototypes using sensors, actuators, and microcontrollers. A series of short project-based modules using scaffolding of code templates in conjunction with toolkits for physical prototypes were introduced in order to learn fundamental technical knowledge and skills in the first half; then more open-ended investigation of project-based individual creative final projects followed. Each module can be completed in one day with instructions on prototyping and programming in pairs, allowing students to build and see abstract logic in programming through the physical behaviors of prototypes without overpowering student creativity and motivation. Students can reinterpret given materials and modify them to produce custom tools that can realize their original project goals. This strategy allows students to acquire extensible knowledge that does not rely on higher-level software functions or specialized but inflexible plug-ins. This paper is an extended and revised version of a paper presented at the EUROGRAPHICS 2014 conference [30].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-35
Number of pages11
JournalComputers and Graphics (Pergamon)
StatePublished - Jun 23 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • General Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


  • Computer uses in education
  • Digital fabrication
  • Physical computing
  • Smart products


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