The potential of products equipped with digital technologies like embedded computers, sensors and actuators creates new opportunities and challenges for product designers. The opportunities involve creating products that are aware of the user and of the context of interaction, products that invite tangible and expressive interaction. The challenge in the design of such products lies in designing the appropriate interactive qualities. The development of concepts for interactive products requires a highly iterative design process that involves the making of experiential prototypes from the start. This design-by-making approach serves two purposes: to assess the quality of the design ideas and for the designer to reflect on the appropriateness of the chosen technology. Both goals cannot be attained by thought and the creation of paper concepts alone.
In the course students are treated to a series of lectures that aim to introduce the appropriate design tools, theoretical background and demonstrate inspiring application concepts. Lecture topics include but are not limited to: interaction design theory, user modelling, max/msp, arduino, interactive architecture, sound design and basic electronics.
Insight into designing new forms of user-product interaction can be gained from a better understanding of human-human communication and human-object interaction in the physical world. In many ways, new product technologies provide a means of merging the physical world with the digital world.
The aim of the ITD course is to provide DFI Masters students with in-depth theoretical and practical interaction design knowledge to help develop future products based on user-product interaction. The course builds on conceptualization skills, interaction design knowledge and technology skills acquired at the Bachelor level. Students gain an understanding of how knowledge can be embedded in a product and how the user can communicate his or her intentions in an expressive way. Students also learn how to translate design ideas into experiential prototypes.
Students work in groups of 4-6 students on a real world (company provided) design assignment. The course engages the students in an iterative design process of 5 design cycles that directs the development of a concept for an interactive product. Each design cycle has a specific character ranging from initial sketchy experiential prototypes to a final prototype that can be evaluated by users from the target group. The design process spans a full semester with activities concentrated on one day per week. Each design cycles ends with plenary presentations in which the concept is presented and the experiential prototype is demonstrated. The final design cycle is finalized with an informal user test in the setting of a public exhibition where students communicate their results and facilitate a hands on test. A final deliverable is a document describing their performance through all design to reflect on their concept development.