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Unit information: Interactive Devices in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Interactive Devices
Unit code COMSM0009
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Roudaut
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Computer Science
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


Modern interactive devices are reshaping the ways in which we interact with technology and with the world around us. This unit will introduce advanced topics in Human Computer Interaction research, with a particular emphasis on the design and development of custom interactive devices. We will cover a wide range of sensing technologies and the input and output techniques that have enabled computing systems to move beyond traditional desktop paradigms.

This module teaches concepts and skills required to design, prototype, and build new interactive devices - that is, software and physical objects that respond to user input and enable new types of interactions. We will also consider how these technologies can be brought to bear in addressing important societal issues, e.g. healthcare, education and sustainability. Over the course of the Unit you will learn about cutting edge HCI research on interactive devices and will also have the opportunity to design and build your own interactive device.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable you to:

1. Critically analyse interactive systems using design critique and reflective thinking techniques;

2. Design and build interactive devices - including hardware and software prototypes;

3. Use quantitative and qualitative techniques to evaluate user experiences.

Teaching details

2 lectures per week supported by workshops as follows:

1. Lectures dedicated to a survey of relevant techniques in sensing and actuation for interaction; embodied interaction; embedded software development; critical thinking; and user interface programming.

2. Workshop sessions in which students will propose and carry out a significant design and implementation project. We encourage students to work on projects targeting key social and economic challenges, e.g. technologies for health, education or sustainability.

In the workshop sessions students will have access to raw materials, electronics toolkits, and machinery, including laser cutters and 3D printers.

Assessment Details

100% coursework consisting of the design and implementation of an interactive computing device, involving software and hardware development, and the submission of a project report.

Reading and References

The syllabus for this course will be based on recent research papers at international HCI conferences such as ACM CHI and ACM UIST. Required and recommended reading will be issued in advance of each lecture and lab session.