Within the field of Interaction Design, this course focuses on how to quickly build and prototype interactive installations for testing in the field. The aim is that the student will be able to conduct independent interdisciplinary analyzes of technology on the basis of a reflected choice of theories, methods and concepts in design science, human sciences and engineering.

The course is situated at Fablab RUC, and invites you to use 8 Fridays with lectures and exercises to understand how to quickly build and prototype interaction design. You are going to work on designing your own physical prototype of an idea you should come up with.

The will be to work with creating robots with personality. I.e. you will design your own interactive robot and seek to create curiosity and playful interactions. In addition to lectures on selected theory and method, you will have to design and build your own robot, as well as design electronics and interaction inside.

The focus is on working with interactive technologies in a lab setting. Doing quick iterative prototypes and thinking through them. Theory of creative processor, human-machine interaction and human factors. Introduction to programming, physical computing, and laser cutting.

Formal course description:

Moodle page:

Robots made before (for inspiration), look also in the inspiration menu above


A few good advices for the course

The focus is on the creative process, not the perfect outcome. Therefore the course is more about reflecting on the potential and the challenges. Take many pictures of prototypes, circuits, idea, test setups etc. Also, remember to take notes on your ideas and reflections. Do make sure to read through all the papers in the curriculum and make sure to use them as a basis for your reflection on your own process.

This class has a hands-on pedagogical approach to teaching. What this means is that you have a great chance to get structured guidance of a design process, and you have the opportunity to learn an array of technologies based on your curiosities. What this also means is that the success of the class is much dependent on your dedication. If you engage with energy, there will be many interesting discussions.

Relevant links and ressources

In the top meny you will find all the ressources you need to work with Arduino and Fabrication. Do take you time to get to know them.

Learning outcomes

Be able to do studio-based design exploration in interactive design.

Be able to frame exploratory design research as a knowledge contribution in the form of an academic short paper.

Be able to understand the basics of Arduino technology (programming, and electronics, sensors and actuators).

Be able to use essential prototyping tools like laser-cutting, soldering, embedded computing.

Assessment criteria

Knowledge about selected theories, methods and concepts in both design, human and technical sciences.

Skills that apply selected theories, methods and concepts in design science, human science and technical science to evaluate and test design.

Competences to evaluate and test designs and solutions in concrete as well as laboratory-like contexts.

Research Question:

What makes us relate to objects as alive even though they HAVE a MINIMAL AMOUNT OF human or an animal FORM?

  • How do we make an object come alive through the code?

  • How do we interact with it?

  • In which way can we perceive it as emotional?

  • How do we perceive it as aware?

Example of a non-anthropomorphic object


Design and explorE an aspect of a MINIMAL-anthropomorphic object/MATERIAL wHICH is EXPERIENCED as ALIVE

  • Which aspect do you want to explore? How to interact with it, Creating emotions (hungry, bored, curious), Creating alive expressions through light.

  • What expressions should it have (light, sound)?

  • What internal logic should the robot have?

  • How can we interact with it?

  • What role should it have in our lives? (Companion for loneliness, A Pet, An assistant....?).

The knowledge you gain from your exploration should be the basis for your short paper for the examination.

You are going to build the most useless (exemplary) machine.



Date, time and room for each lecture can be found in

(the program will change as we go along - so make sure to keep yourself updated)

#1: Course introduction, Alive and adaptive materials

Read before the lecture:

All the papers are in a google drive folder link on moodle.

  • Buxton, B. (2008), Sketching User Experiences. Getting the design right and the right design. p. 135-14

  • Karana, E., Nimkulrat, N., Giaccardi, E., Niedderer, K. & Fan, J.N. (2019). Alive. Active. Adaptive: Experiential knowledge and emerging materials. International Journal of Design, 13(2), 1-5.

Do before the lecture:

Install the following programs:

  • Arduino:

  • Create a google account if you do not have one.

  • Add the working documents folder (link can be found on the moodle page) to your google account.

Key learning outcomes:

  • Sketching vs. prototyping

  • From Anthropomorphism to non-antropomorphic to Alive/Active/Adaptive materiality

Class exercise:


#1 Research useless machines

#2 Brainstorm about aspects you want to explore

  • Emotional connection

  • Touch and touch reaction

  • Moods and personality

  • Animations

#3 Ideation


Se construction here

#2: Programming input and outputs

Read before the lecture :

(You will not be able understand everything in the following links. Do a concentrated effort to read through and get an overview of different solutions and programming patterns. Then you can always look it up when you need it)

Key learning outcomes:

  • Event vs. state

Class exercises:




#3: Designing computational behaviour #1

Read/do before the lecture:

  • Spend a few hours playing with your kit and try out some of the examples I have made

  • See-through the videos on the Arduino introduction page. Focus on the following sections:

    • To start.

    • Decisions with if statements.

    • Grouping commands with scopes.

    • Memory: Storing information with variables.

    • Repetition with loops.

  • Hobye, M., & Ranten, M. (2019). Behavioral complexity as a computational material strategy. International Journal of Design, 13(2), 39-53

  • (optional) Christiansen, H., Hobye, M., & Lindelof, A. M. (2019). Robot Gestalts in Staged Performances: Poster abstract. Poster session præsenteret på 4th Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries, Copenhagen, Danmark.

  • (optional) Christiansen, H., Lindelof, A. M., & Hobye, M. (2018). Breathing Life into Familiar Domestic Objects. I Proceedings of the 27th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication: Nanjing, China, August 27-31, 2018 (s. 589-594). IEEE. IEEE RO-MAN proceedings, Nr. 2018

Key learning outcomes:

  • Understanding the idea of creating aliveness into familiar domestic objects and the different strategies that can be applied.

Class exercises:




#4: Studio day #1 & Laser Cutting intro

Install before the lecture:

Read before the lecture:

Class exercise:

Laser cutting (Helene)

Begin making a working prototype

Produce a working prototype which is good enough for testing.

#5: Creating curiosity & computational behaviour #2

Read before the lecture:

  • Vallgårda, A., Winther, M., Mørch, N., & Vizer, E. E. (2015). Temporal form in interaction design. International Journal of Design, 9(3), 1-15. (

  • Tieben & Bekker (2011). Curiosity and interaction: making people curious through interactive systems. (

  • (optional) Gaver, William W., Jacob Beaver, and Steve Benford. 2003. “Ambiguity As a Resource for Design.” In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 233–40. CHI ’03. New York, NY, USA: ACM.

  • (optional) Gaver, William. 2009. “Designing for Homo Ludens, Still.” In (Re)searching the Digital Bauhaus, edited by Jonas Löwgren and Lone Malmborg, 163–78. London: Springer. ( )

  • (optional) Bianchini S., Levillain F., Menicacci A., Quinz E., Zibetti E. (2016) Towards Behavioral Objects: A Twofold Approach for a System of Notation to Design and Implement Behaviors in Non-anthropomorphic Robotic Artifacts. In: Laumond JP., Abe N. (eds) Dance Notations and Robot Motion. Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics, vol 111. Springer, Cham.

Key learning outcomes:

  • Temporal Form

  • Curisity as a design strategy.

Class exercise:

  • Summarize finding from your test.

  • Prototyping for final test.

#6: Maker intro + Studio day #2

This day is dedicated to introducting coding concepts and for you to work on your projects.

Read before the lecture:

Key learning outcomes:

  • Fablab and Maker movement as a place to get ownership over material form.

  • Open source as a way to create democratic knowledge sharing

Class exercise:

Make a working prototype you can test

#7: Analysis and documentation

Read before the lecture:

Key learning outcomes:

  • Use videos,

  • Have one central point in one article

Class exercise:

  • Summarize finding from your test.

  • Find your research question.

  • Prototyping for final test.

  • Document your prototype in the photobooth

#8: Studio day, final paper title discussion

This is the final class. We will do the following:

  • Summarize the theory presented in the class.

  • Help you with framing your academic paper for the examination.

  • Get a status on your projects.

  • Document in the photobooth.

  • Go through the exam format and work with your framing.

  • Final studio time



Link to workdocuments and logbooks can be found on moodle: