(edit sidebar)
Intro to Physical Computing Syllabus

Research & Learning

Other Class pages

Shop Admin

ITP Help Pages
Tom's pcomp site
DanO's pcomp site


Topics

Syllabus Main? Labs & tutorials Books and Readings Parts & Supplies ClassPages

Some time in weeks 1 - 3: Attend a tool safety session in the shop

For each week, you'll find:

  • Practice Topics we'll discuss in class. Course notes are linked so you can read them before class, to know what we're talking about.
  • Lab assignments that illustrate the practice topics. You should read through the labs and try as much as you can the week before the lab is discussed in class. We'll go over the principles in the lab in class, so bring your hardware, and you'll get a chance to try it while we discuss, and ask questions.
You'll be responsible to show at least one lab finished lab project in the first half of the semester in class. Your instructor will pick the next week's lab presenters at random each week.
  • Production assignments larger assignments which have scheduled times you'll be expected to show them in class.
  • Reading to be read in the week they're assigned. Will come up in discussion the week after, usually.
  • Blog assignments Writing the week when it's assigned. Will come up in class from time to time. Read each other's stuff too.

Come to class with questions prepared about that week's assignments. If you have no questions, be prepared to show a working version of what you made.


Week 1

Practice Topics:

  • What is physical interaction?
  • Interaction concepts: discrete vs continuous, parallel events vs serial events, play testing, user observation.

In-class exercise:

As a class, we'll make a list of fantasy devices; things that don't exist, but that we wish did. For the moment, we'll ignore technical feasibility, and concentrate on how you'd operate these devices if they did exist. You'll be divided into groups of 3. Pick a fantasy device from the list. Design a control interface for this device and demonstrate it in-class. Think about what a person has to see, hear, touch, etc. while operating the device. Think about what cues they need to understand the interface. Think about what parts of their body they need to have free, what gestures are best for triggering the device's behaviors, and so forth. Build a mock-up of the controls from anything you can find on the floor. At the end of class, one or two of you will act out the use of the device using your mock-up while the third person narrates.

Assignment for next week:

  • Join the physcomp listserve
  • Put a link to your blog on the your class' blog list page. The link is next to your instructor's name above.

Reading for next week:

Blog:

After this class' discussion and exercise, and reading Chris Crawford's definition and Bret Victor's rant, how would you define physical interaction? What makes for good physical interaction? Are there works from others that you would say are good examples of digital technology that are not interactive?

Practice topics for next week: Read through these in advance, try the labs, and come next week with questions about them.

Labs for next week:

  • Lab: Components
  • Lab: Setting up a breadboard
  • Lab: Electronics and using a Multimeter
  • Lab: Switches

Week 2

Practice Topics:

  • Understanding Electricity:
    • Ohm's Law
    • Parallel vs. serial circuits
    • Identifying electrical components
    • Making a switch

In-class discussion/exercise: Electronics lab exercises

Practice topics for next week: Read through these in advance, try the labs, and come next week with questions about them.

Labs for next week:

Reading for next week:

Blog:

Observation. Pick a piece of interactive technology in public, used by multiple people. Write down your assumptions as to how it's used, and describe the context in which it's being used. Watch people use it, preferably without them knowing they're being observed. Take notes on how they use it, what they do differently, what appear to be the difficulties, what appear to be the easiest parts. Record what takes the longest, what takes the least amount of time, and how long the whole transaction takes. Consider how the readings from Norman and Crawford reflect on what you see.

Week 3

Practice Topics:

  • Intro to Arduino; digital and analog input from sensors

In-class discussion/exercise: Getting started with Arduino, including digital input, digital output (LED) and analog input. Blinking an LED and changing the speed of the delay

Practice topics for next week: Read through these in advance, try the labs, and come next week with questions about them.

Labs for next week:

  • Lab: servo/analog out
  • Lab: Tone output

Reading for next week:

Blog:

Which of the types of projects mentioned in "Physical Computing's Greatest Hits (and misses)" have you seen before? Which are most compelling to you, and why? What strengths and weaknesses do you see in them? What other patterns of physical interaction have you seen repeatedly?

Week 4

In-class discussion/exercise:

  • Analog out theough Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) and Frequency Modulation (FM)
  • Arduino AnalogOut() and Tone() commands
  • Using External libraries: Arduino Servo library

Practice topics for next week: Read through these in advance, try the labs, and come next week with questions about them.

Lab for next week:

  • Lab: Serial Output

Reading for next week:


Week 5

In-class discussion/exercise:

  • Serial output from a microcontroller; graphing the output a sensor to learn its behavior
  • Project planning: descriptions, system diagrams, bills of materials, and budgets

Practice topics for next week: Read through these in advance, try the labs, and come next week with questions about them.

  • serial communication week 2
    • multiple sensors
    • Interpreting bytes: ASCII vs. binary
    • handshaking/call-and-response

Labs for next week:

  • Lab: Multiple Serial Output

Reading for next week:

Midterm Assignment:

Media Controller project. Make a physical device that controls a medium. It should control the medium in real-time, so that the user can change her actions and see changes as they affect the medium. There are lots of media: digital video, digital audio, electronic or acoustic sound, physical media like paint or ink, and others. Think about paint brushes, video mixers, musical instruments, water faucets, sewing machines -- anything that can control a medium and let you see the changes as you vary your control is fair game. Your device should demonstrate clear physical interaction. The user should be involved in changing the medium all the way through. The controls for making change should be clear and understandable.
This is a group assignment. Groups will be arranged in class this week.
Midterm schedule:
  • Concept presentations week 6
  • Playtest reports and questions week 7
  • Final plan presentations week 8
  • Project working demonstrations week 9
For next week, come up with a concept for your group's project. Describe the technical system briefly (one paragraph with a diagram). Prepare a preliminary bill of materials and start budgeting the cost.

Week 6

PRESENT THIS WEEK: Midterm concept presentations

In-class discussion/exercise:

  • Play Testing Techniques
  • More on serial communication
    • Multi-byte communication
    • Methods of managing the conversation: Handshaking (call-and-response), punctuation

Practice topics for next week: Read through these in advance, try the labs, and come next week with questions about them.

Labs for next week:

Assigment for next week:

Develop a plan to playtest your project. Figure out what the physical elements, and make stand-ins from cardboard, paper, wood, or whatever you have available. Prepare a list of questions you want to answer with this playtest. Perform a playtest before the next class and report on it. Think about what you did in week 1 with the fantasy device project, but this time for a real device. Your mock-up should include as little as you need so that you can have other people perform your system. When they do, they will have questions, or will tell you what doesn't make sense. Take note of those things and make changes to your plan accordingly.

Week 7

PRESENT THIS WEEK: Play test reports on midterms

In-class discussion/exercise:

  • Controlling High Current loads;relays and transistors
  • DC motor basics

Practice topics for next week: Read through these in advance, try the labs, and come next week with questions about them.

Labs for next week:

Assigment for next week:

Revise your project plan and description based on what you've learned from your playtest

Week 8

PRESENT THIS WEEK: Midterm system diagrams, descriptions, and BOMs.

In-class discussion/exercise:

  • Advanced motor control; H-bridges and stepper motors
  • Construction techniques

Reading for next week:


Week 9

PRESENT THIS WEEK: Midterm project demonstrations.

Assignment:

Final project. Create a physically interactive system of your choice. Your focus in this assignment should be on careful and timely sensing of the relevant actions of the person or people that you're designing this for, and on clear, prompt, and effective response. Any interactive system is going to involve systems of listening, thinking, and speaking from both parties. Whether it involves one cycle or many, the exchange should be engaging.
Document your work thoroughly online as you go. Include details of all phases of the project. Include a project summary as well, explaining what the system you built is, what it does, and what purpose it's intended to serve. Your summary should introduce the project.
You may work alone or in groups. Depending on how many groups/projects there are, we will split the final presentations into two weeks. You will be assigned a presentation week next week.
A few examples:
Musical Instruments. Performing music involves a sustained engagement between the performer and the instrument. The feedback fro mthe instrument has to be immediate and clear in order for the performer to continue playing. The interface has to be flexible so that the musician can exercise her creativity in playing, but has to have some boundaries so that she knows what the instrument can do and what it can't do.
Game interfaces. Like musical instruments, they involve constant back-and-forth interaction and immediate response. They are often simpler than musical instruments. In fact, the standard game controller has gotten so standard that the action of many games is artificially adapted to the needs of the controller, not the physical expressiveness of the player. Pick a specific game and see if you can change that.
Assistive devices. Whether it's something as simple as a reaching device (think of pickle pickers) or something more complex, these devices are very demanding of clear, reliable response.
Remote control systems. They require not only a clear interface, but must also return enough information on the remote system's action to let you know that you're doing the right thing. Whether it's a remote controller for your home electrical devices or a Mars rover controller, the need for clarity and good feedback are equally essential to the person who it's made for.
There are many other good applications for this project. Discuss the specifics of yours with your instructor.
Final schedule:
  • Concept presentations week 10
  • Playtest reports and questions week 11
  • Final plan presentations week 12
  • Project working demonstrations week 13 & 14

Blog:

For next week, come up with a concept for your final project. Describe the technical system briefly (one paragraph with a diagram). Prepare a preliminary bill of materials and start budgeting the cost.

Week 10

Midterm project process review: what would you have done differently? In-class discussion

PRESENT THIS WEEK: Final project concept presentations

Assigment for next week:

Develop a plan to playtest your project. Perform a playtest before the next class and report on it.

Week 11

PRESENT THIS WEEK: Final project playtest reports

In-class discussion/exercise:

  • complex data communications
    • configuration vs. communication (command move vs. data mode)
    • addressing
    • Bluetooth serial as example
    • protocols discussion
    • Optional Bluetooth Lab or TBA depending on class topics

Assignment for next week:

Revise your project plan and description based on what you've learned from your playtest

Week 12

PRESENT THIS WEEK: Final project system plan presentations

Blog:

  • Finish your final project documentation.

Week 13

PRESENT THIS WEEK:

  • Final Project Demonstrations

Week 14

PRESENT THIS WEEK:

  • Final Project Demonstrations
  Edit | View | History | Print | Recent Changes | Search Page last modified on November 21, 2012, at 02:08 PM