Arlene Ducao Fall 2014

Originally written on August 21, 2014 by Tom Igoe
Last modified on July 21, 2015 by Maria Paula Saba

NEW! Basic User Studies Questions.

  • Who is the ideal user?
  • Is this project instrumental, expressional, and/or educational? Does it work as this kind of project?
  • Is the user interaction engaging? How can it be improved?

NEW! Final Project Checklist.
Please compile all of the above compiled into a single blog post or web page.

  • Introduction: Why are you doing this project? What are you contributing to the field? What did you learn?
  • Interaction System Diagram
  • Write-up of 3 User Studies
  • Final BOM
  • Final Timeline
  • Technical Documentation: wiring diagram, component diagram, etc
  • Demonstration of interaction, live in December 11 class
  • Video of project (optional if you can demonstrate the entire project in class)

Session: Thursdays, 9AM-11:55AM, Room 20.


Office Hours: Thursdays after class and some Wednesday afternoons. Email me to schedule an appointment.

Class Date Exceptions: I will be in Asia from Sept 13-22 and will be have limited access to email at that time. Sept 18’s class will be covered by Tom Igoe.

Policy on blog assignments:  All blog assignments are due before class. I will leave responses to your blog in the afternoon after our class.

Policy on LATENESS (instituted for class sessions 9-12):

  1. Be in class at 9AM sharp. Be in all of class.
  2. Submit your assignment before class. I already send you pre-class courtesy notes outlining what is due, so pay attention to them!
  3. The only exception is a true emergency– official documentation (i.e. a doctor’s note, a police report) is required.
  4. If you do not follow policies 1-3 above, I will require an extra credit assignment from you, due December 14. The assignment will be of my choosing, it will be hard, and you will have to do a good job.
  5. If you do not follow policies 1-4 above, you will receive a failing grade for this class.

Student Journals/Blogs:
Kaini Zhou
Diego Cruz
Catherine Rehwinkel
Hugo Lucena
Sung Hoon Kim
Shaun Axani
Pat Shiu
Jaclyn Wickam
Natalia Cabrera
Oryan Inbar
Caroline Chiu
Sergio Mora
Renata Kuba
Koen Holtcamp
Jordan Backhus

Notes on System Diagrams: There are several types of system diagrams that seem relevant for this class, particularly…
– Technology Diagrams (i.e. circuit/wiring, network architecture, etc)
– Human Interaction Diagrams (see ACM CHI and TEI papers for many examples)
– Environment/Infrastructure/Context Diagrams (i.e. for transport systems, large organizational systems)

Notes on Project Planning: Keep it Simple!

FIRST: Determine the context and relevance of the interaction you’re designing. Who is this for? Why does it matter? What kind of physical interaction are you designing (i.e. instrumental, educational, expressive), and how would you like it to be evaluated (i.e. based on design, human-centered, or engineering principles)?

Prepare and start building a “Works-Like” Prototype.
1. Sketch your circuit and prepare your BOM. You can use a tool like CircuitHub to help. Remember the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule– the simplest approach will save you headaches and heartaches along the way.
2. Research and order parts EARLY. Discuss ordering with your classmates to save on shipping.
3. Try to avoid specialized components when you can, but if you must include them and if you can afford it, order extras of specialized components. In general, try to avoid components that are extremely specialized, they often lack documentation.
4. Explore your local stores (i.e. Radio Shack, Home Depot, etc) to have a sense of where to buy last-minute parts.

At the same time, quickly build a “Looks-Like / Feels-Like” Prototype and playtest with others.
1. Try to build these prototypes as quickly as possible, with cheap, accessible materials like paper, cardboard, trash, glue, tape, etc.
2. Playtest and demo whenever you can.
3. Iterate often– since your materials are cheap, you can re-structure and re-build quickly.
4. Use your playtest results to revise and simplify your circuit and code plans.

You should now be able to plan a timeline for your project iterations. Iterate as needed on your “Works-Like” and “Looks-Like/Feels Like” prototypes until you can unify them into a prototype that conveys a meaningful interaction.

As you refine your iterations, consider these issues:
– Organization: keep your circuit and code designs as organized, commented, and documented as possible. This is especially important for collaboration. You can use version control services like Github, Bitbucket, and Build In Progress to help with this.
– Fabrication: You may want to take advantage of the shop and fabrication machines at ITP and NYU to make enclosures and components that are particularly beautiful, engaging, or intentional. If so, be sure to build this into your project timeline.
– Communication: Plan regular meetings with your collaborators. You can use tools like Trello to help organize your team to-dos.