Smart Objects

1.5 Credits 
Course Description

The future is now. Connected Devices, Smart Objects, Internet of Things, Wearables. Its all happening and you’re in the driver’s seat.

So what do we make? And why? And for whom? What problems need solving now that we can embed electronics and intelligence in everything? How do we develop these products and make them effective, useful, and beautiful?

In this 7-week course, you will learn by testing, making, and breaking. Together, we will prototype new critical products for the present and future.

This course will explore the rich relationship among people, objects, and information through a combination of physical and digital design methods. Beginning with an examination of case studies, students will gain a sense of the breadth of product design practice as it applies to smart objects, connected devices, and internet of things (IoT) products. Students will generate their own design brief and/or client. The course will culminate in a final project that considers all aspects of smart object design within the context of a larger theme.

Through a combination of lectures and hands-on studio exercises, students will explore all aspects of smart object design including business proposition from a product standpoint, interaction systems, ergonomics, network connectivity and contexts of use.

Course Objectives

In this course, students will explore theories of product design as they apply to both physical and virtual systems. They will learn techniques for crafting product behaviors and develop strategies for using tangible experience prototypes as part of the design process. Students will gain an understanding of physical interaction, networked objects, product personality, information displays, ergonomics, haptics and the role of smart objects in contemporary design practice, while learning methods for testing and communicating new ideas in physical/digital design.

Course Outcomes

In this course students will learn:

  • How to develop design-actionable insights through dialogue with users, clients, observation of human behavior, and market analysis.
  • How to invent and define product ideas, features and benefits.
  • How to select and prototype core features to understand more about the impact of that idea.
  • How to define and apply dynamic product behaviors using rapid hardware, firmware, & software prototyping techniques.
  • How to select appropriate technologies and systems to achieve design goals.
  • Methods for crafting product personality by identifying and analyzing key moments of interaction.
  • Ways of defining and documenting information structures through experience flow diagrams, systems mapping, and overall information architecture.
  • Techniques for creating manufacturing documentation, including Bill of Materials, Electrical Schematic, and 3D drawings.
Class Deliverables

The main deliverable will be a physical interaction design project communicated through a final presentation using prototyped artifacts and presented to a panel of designers and relevant industry experts. Students will work in groups in order to identify user needs, develop scenarios and build user experience frameworks around a given topic.

Required Texts
  • Kuniavsky, Mike. Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design. Morgan Kaufmann, 2010. ISBN-10: 0123748992, ISBN-13: 978-0123748997
  • Greenfield, Adam. Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing. New Riders Publishing, 2006. ISBN-10: 0321384016, ISBN-13: 978-0321384016
  • Dunne, Anthony. Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design, 2008. ISBN-10: 0262541998
  • Dunne, Anthony. Raby, Fiona. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. 2013. ISBN-10: 0262019841
  • Buxton, Bill. Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design. Morgan Kaufmann, 2007. ISBN-10: 0123740371, ISBN-13: 978-0123740373
  • Norman, Donald. The Design of Future Things, pp. 17-40.
  • Kelly, Kevin. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World, “Industrial Ecology”, pp. 166-183.
  • Kelly, Kevin. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World, “Emergence of Control”, pp.111-127.