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Syllabus Spring 2019


The goal of this class is to improve your skills in tangible interaction, as well as your programming and electronics skills. It’s not a class where you’ll make a major project, but rather one where you’ll make several small projects to practice these skills. The goal is to reach a point where you can put together a tangible interface quickly, in service of the larger goals of more ambitious projects.


Students will complete three production projects, each documented with a blog post, and one research report (which will involve some production in the research). In addition, they will document at least one new tangible control component on the class blog. Time permitting, we’ll begin these in class together and you’ll finish them for the following week. You may work alone or in pairs on these, though everyone should do at least half of the projects alone.


Week 1 – Jan 30

  • Sensor events: state change, peak
  • Debounce, smoothing, calibration
  • Documentation techniques: Fritzing, screen capture with camera, graphing
  • Assignment: Clock controls
  • Assignment: Pick a sensor to report on
  • Reading:

Week 2 – Feb 6

Week 3 – Feb 13

  • Assignment due: tell us what your sensor report will be on.
  • Sensor Library: rotary encoders, vibrating motors, indicator LEDs
  • Stateless controls: rotary encoder, softPot, FSR, etc.
  • State indicators on the control panel: lighting, sound, vibration
  • In-class lab: state indicators

Week 4 – Feb 20

  • Presentation: Show musical instruments
  • USB output from a microcontroller
  • Assignment: USB HID Controller

Week 5 – Feb 27

  • Assignment: Sensor report: Outline due.
  • Sensor Library: Limit switches, multi-state switches
  • Datalogging with MKR0 or Feather M0 Adalogger

Week 6 – Mar 6

  • Reading: read each others’ reports, email each other (and me) with questions.

Week 7 – Mar 13

  • Presentation: show USB HID controller
  • Final discussion.
  • Sensor Library. In this week, we’ll talk about each others’ sensor library blog posts, ask each other questions, discuss what we learned, and suggest any updates.

Participation & Attendance

Standard professional practice for any meeting applies to this class, specifically:

Be on time, ready to begin. Three unexcused latenesses will count as an absence, and three or more unexcused absences will count as failure in the class.

If you have an emergency, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

I understand that you do not have total control over your commute, so plan in advance. Leave home early enough to compensate for regular transit delays and to meet any personal needs before class begins.

Stay in the room during the session. We will always take a break approximately an hour to 90 minutes into the class. Prepare in advance so that you can stay in the room and participate.

Turn off phones, tablets, or computers unless you are using them specifically for a class exercise.

Do any reading required or assignments before their due date. Class will be more productive if you are prepared.

Participate in the discussion. Ask questions when ou don’t understand something. Offer advice and critique on other projects in the class. This a major part of your grade. Speak up. The class thrives on engaged discussion from everyone.

Give everyone in the room the same respect you expect them to give you. Listen when others are speaking or presenting. Be polite and constructive, especially when offering criticism.

Good Habits

Do not copy and paste examples in this class. You’ll see many examples of code, circuits, and design, but when it comes time to make your own projects, start with a blank page and write or design it yourself. You’ll internalize any given toolset better by using it yourself rather than copying and modifying the work of others.

When you copy or learn from someone else’s code or design, cite it in your documentation and link to it if possible. Maintaining a link to the previous work from which you learn is essential to getting better at your craft.

Build housings for your projects. Even if it’s a cardboard box with your sensors mounted on the outside and your circuit inside, this allows us to see the interface you intended, and to consider how well we can interact with it. Getting in this habit from day one of a project will help you to think about both the users’ needs and the best controls and components for the job.


You’ll need to document your class assignments on your own blog, and prepare a report on on the class blog as well. Here’s what’s expected:

Project documentation

Blog posts about your production assignments should include:

  • A short paragraph describing the project
  • Photos and video of the project in action
  • System diagram
  • Circuit diagram/Schematic
  • Links to Source code
  • Any construction drawings you made for laser cutting, CNC, etc.
  • Citation of all example code or example drawings or documentation that you learned from or used

Sensor Report

Sensor Report blog posts should be made on the class site, not on your own site. These will become a reference for future classes. Posts should include:

  • Description and photos of the control
  • Link to source for purchase
  • Link to data sheet
  • Description of example uses
  • Analysis of strengths or weaknesses
  • Example circuit schematic to use the control
  • Example microcontroller code to use the control
  • Any construction drawings you made for laser cutting, CNC, etc.
  • Citation of all example code or example drawings or documentation that you learned from or used
  • See the previous sensor reports for an idea of what makes a good report.


Grading will be based on the following:

  • In-class participation(come with questions and insights, do some background reading in advance of class so you’re ready to join the discussion, listen when others are presenting, give your classmates feedback): 1/3
  • Assignments (attempt each assignment and document it, including what didn’t work, and your questions as to why or why not):1/3
  • Documentation (keep notes on what you do online, for yourself and others to learn from): 1/3

Statement of Principle

The core of the educational experience at the Tisch School of the Arts is the creation of original academic and artistic work by students for the critical review of faculty members. It is therefore of the utmost importance that students at all times provide their instructors with an accurate sense of their current abilities and knowledge in order to receive appropriate constructive criticism and advice. Any attempt to evade that essential, transparent transaction between instructor and student through plagiarism or cheating is educationally self-defeating and a grave violation of Tisch School of the Arts community standards. For all the details on plagiarism, please refer to page 10 of the Tisch School of the Arts, Policies and Procedures Handbook.

Statement of Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work as though it were your own. More specifically, plagiarism is to present as your own: A sequence of words quoted without quotation marks from another writer or a paraphrased passage from another writer’s work or facts, ideas or images composed by someone else.

Statement On Title IX

Tisch School of the Arts to dedicated to providing its students with a learning environment that is rigorous, respectful, supportive and nurturing so that they can engage in the free exchange of ideas and commit themselves fully to the study of their discipline. To that end Tisch is committed to enforcing University policies prohibiting all forms of sexual misconduct as well as discrimination on the basis of sex and gender.  Detailed information regarding these policies and the resources that are available to students through the Title IX office can be found by using the following link: Title IX at NYU.

Statement on Accessibility

Please feel free to make suggestions to your instructor about ways in which this class could become more accessible to you. Academic accommodations are available for students with documented disabilities. Please contact the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities for further information. Their phone number is212 998-4980.

Statement on Counseling and Wellness

Your health and safety are a priority at NYU. If you experience any health or mental health issues during this course, we encourage you to utilize the support services of the 24/7 NYU Wellness Exchange 212-443-9999. Also, all students who may require an academic accommodation due to a qualified disability, physical or mental, please register with the Moses Center, phone number 212-998-4980. Please let your instructor know if you need help connecting to these resources.