1 Delft University of Technology (NETHERLANDS)
2 Delf University of Technology (NETHERLANDS)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 2985-2995
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
It is a big challenge for second year students to learn how to perform user research, while designing and prototyping a product service system, which involves not only screen-based, but also physical interactions. Yet, such challenges are becoming increasingly common in design praxis, for which our students need to be well prepared. This paper presents the process and results of reorganizing a large bachelor course on interaction design to integrate experiential prototyping with electronics in order to support learning the basics of user research and compliment screen-based interaction design.
The primary objective of the Interaction and Electronics (IE) course at TU Delft is to teach user-centered interaction design methods. When faced with the reorganization of the course we have encountered several challenges. We aspired to combine screen-based and embodied interactions in one project. We have also aimed to support explorative prototyping, while requiring students to create working prototypes within the short timeframe of the course.
In order to cover a wide spectrum of IxD applications, we have introduced a brief for a personal informatics system consisting of an interactive touch screen and a physical device. This brief involves user requirements, design and prototyping of both devices. The prototyping activities lead to user tests and support communication about the concept to classmates and coaches.
For developing physical interactions with a focus on interactive behaviors we have chosen a combination of Arduino and the Grove system. Arduino is an inexpensive and simple open hardware platform well suited for design students, but difficult to master in a short time. Grove allows connecting sensors and actuators to the Arduino board without the need for understanding electronics. To support students with programming interactive behaviors we have involved the diagram technique called “Acting Machines”. With the proper use of Acting Machines students can readily program the desired product behaviour in a graphical way, while being gradually introduced to ways of translating the graphically described behaviour to computer code.
During the preliminary evaluation conducted during the course, we have observed that the prototyping results were constrained by the variety of hardware components in the preselected set. The diversity of components made available at the beginning of the physical prototyping activity was too small to honor all needs. In addition, the introduction of the Acting Machine diagramming done only through the course manual was insufficient and requires a more hands-on introduction in the future
Nonetheless, based on the student evaluation at the end of the course (response rate 80%), and compared to a similar survey performed in previous year, the outcome and evaluation of the new course was largely positive. Students were more engaged in the prototyping activities. Coaches in the course have observed that making a physical device and testing it supported students in communicating and discussing the overall concept as being concrete and real. Often, the parallel activities of prototyping of the physical device and the information-rich screen were also seen to positively influence conceptualisation. With this experience we are looking forward to further integrating and improving the course activities and applying these lessons in other courses across our design curriculum.
Interaction Design, Programming, Arduino.