Practices, Technologies, and Challenges of Constructing and Programming Physical Interactive Prototypes

  • Andrea AlessandriniEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9169)


The prototyping process is a key phase in the design of interactive systems. Designing connections and communications for computational elements is a challenging part of constructing physical interactive prototypes. The goal of this study is to explore and describe the practices and technologies used in the construction of physical interactive prototypes in a university course on interaction design. This study reviews constructed physical interactive prototypes, presents excerpts of interviews with students, and analyses students’ blogs. In particular, the study describes and analyzes how connections and communications were made and which components and technologies were used in a course on interaction design. Finally, the implications of the findings of this study are discussed.


Interaction design Prototyping Design 



The author thanks the students, teachers, and technicians who were involved in the study.


  1. 1.
    Ehn, P., Kyng, M.: Cardboard computers: mocking-it-up or hands-on the future. In: Design at Work, pp. 169–196. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc, Hillsdale (1992)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Weiser, M.: The computer for the 21st century, 1991. Sci. Am. 256, 66–75 (1991)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ishii, H., Ullmer, B.: Tangible bits: towards seamless interfaces between people, bits and atoms. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, p. 241. ACM (1997)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Azuma, R.T.: A survey of augmented reality. Presence 6, 355–385 (1997)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Aarts, E.H.L., Marzano, S.: The New Everyday: Views on Ambient Intelligence. 010 Publishers, Rotterdam (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bdeir, A.: Electronics as material: littlebits. In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction, pp. 397–400. ACM, Cambridge (2009)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Greenberg, S., Fitchett, C.: Phidgets: easy development of physical interfaces through physical widgets. In: Proceedings of the 14th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, pp. 209–218. ACM, New York (2001)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mellis, D., Banzi, M., Cuartielles, D., Igoe, T.: Arduino: an open electronic prototyping platform. In: CHI: ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2007)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Villar, N., Scott, J., Hodges, S., Hammil, K., Miller, C.:NET gadgeteer: a platform for custom devices. In: Kay, J., Lukowicz, P., Tokuda, H., Olivier, P., Krüger, A. (eds.) Pervasive 2012. LNCS, vol. 7319, pp. 216–233. Springer, Heidelberg (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
  11. 11.
    Shneiderman, B.: Creativity support tools: a grand challenge for HCI researchers. In: Redono, M., Bravo, C., Ortega, M. (eds.) Engineering the User Interface, pp. 1–9. Springer, London (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Stolterman, E., McAtee, J., Royer, D., Thandapani, S.: Designerly Tools. Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield (2009)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hollan, J., Hutchins, E., Kirsh, D.: Distributed cognition: toward a new foundation for human-computer interaction research. ACM Trans. Comput. Hum. Interact. (TOCHI) 7, 196 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wenger, E.: Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Engeström, Y.: Learning by Expanding: An Activity-Theoretical Approach to Developmental Research. Orienta-Konsultit, Helsinki (1987)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Myers, B., Park, S.Y., Nakano, Y., Mueller, G., Ko, A.: How designers design and program interactive behaviors. In: IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, 2008. VL/HCC 2008, pp. 177–184. IEEE (2008)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Alessandrini, A., Cappelletti, A., Zancanaro, M.: Audio-augmented paper for therapy and educational intervention for children with autistic spectrum disorder. Int. J. Hum. Comput. Stud. 72, 422–430 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Boucher, A., Gaver, W.: Developing the drift table. Interactions 13, 24–27 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hazlewood, W.R., Dalton, N., Marshall, P., Rogers, Y., Hertrich, S.: Bricolage and consultation: addressing new design challenges when building large-scale installations. In: Proceedings of the 8th ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, pp. 380–389. ACM (2010)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Rizzo, A., Rubegni, E., Grönval, E., Caporali, M., Alessandrini, A.: The net in the park. Knowl. Technol. Policy 22, 51–59 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Rubegni, E., Brunk, J., Caporali, M., Gronvall, E., Alessandrini, A., Rizzo, A.: Wi-Wave: urban furniture for browsing internet contents in public spaces. In: Proceedings of the 15th European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics: The Ergonomics of Cool Interaction, p. 10. ACM (2008)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Alessandrini, A., Rizzo, A., Rubegni, E.: Drama prototyping for the design of urban interactive systems for children. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, pp. 198–201. ACM (2009)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mellis, D.A.: Making Prototypes Work: Reflections from a Course in Tangible User InterfacesGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Alessandrini, A.: Digital Bricolage: Hands-on Experiences with Digital Interaction Construction. FabLearn Europe, Aahrus (2014)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hartmann, B., Doorley, S., Dontcheva, M.: Hacking, mashing, gluing: understanding opportunistic design. IEEE Pervasive Comput. 7, 46–54 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hartmann, B., Doorley, S., Klemmer, S.R.: Hacking, mashing, gluing: a study of opportunistic design and development. Pervasive Comput. 7, 46–54 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Alessandrini, A.: End-user construction mechanisms for the internet of things. In: Proceedings of the 27th International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference, pp. 1–6. British Computer Society, London (2013)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Carter, S., Mankoff, J., Klemmer, S.R., Matthews, T.: Exiting the cleanroom: on ecological validity and ubiquitous computing. Hum. Comput. Interact. 23, 47–99 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Klemmer, S.R., Landay, J.A.: Toolkit support for integrating physical and digital interactions. Hum. Comput. Interact. 24, 315–366 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Klemmer, S.R., Li, J., Lin, J., Landay, J.A.: Papier-Mache: toolkit support for tangible input. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 399–406. ACM (2004)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Turkle, S.: Life on the Screen. Simon and Schuster, New York (2011)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Art, Science and EngineeringUniversity of DundeeDundeeUK

Personalised recommendations