A course in tangible interaction

Gruppebilde INF5205 høsten 2016

A course in tangible interaction

This September, the Design group once again ran the five-week intensive course INF5205/INF9205 in the 7th floor lab in Ole Johan Dahls house. This course is designed to offer specialization in the field of tangible interaction, and the learning outcomes and practical experiences make this course particularly suited for students pursuing a master’s theses involving physical, spatial, or embodied artefacts. 

Because INF5205 is organized as an intensive course, full-time participation is expected for five weeks, before it is finished by a final open exhibition in the 7th floor. The students formed and worked in groups, and twice a week presented their work in critique sessions involving the whole research group body, in order to mature and finalise their conceptual ideas. The tangible interaction course does not pursue a classical user-drive design process, but rather, the students spend time learning to work rapidly with different types of physical materials and technologies. During these five weeks, the students become acquainted to a genius-driven approach with significant time being devoted to various workshops, such as woodworking, 3D-printing, laser cutting, vinyl cutting, polymorph plastic, and clay.

In addition, the theoretical curriculum offers support through exploration of topics such as embodiment, materials, and tangible frameworks. Through different explorations of physical interactions and interfaces, students learn not only to work with physical objects, but also think with and through them. The course is normally open for PhD and master students, but bachelor students with approval to take master level courses are welcome to apply for the course. The course has a maximum capacity of 12 students, but it is run each semester due to popular demand.

This semester’s (Autumn 2016) projects were “There’yet”, “Småsnap”, and “MagiCall”.


– Mariel Herland, Stian Kongsvik, Eirik Lillejordet, Oda Sofie Dahl Eide

INF5205 autumn 2016, There yet

Time is relative—it sometimes goes by fast, and other times slow. As a child the concept of time and how it works may be difficult to comprehend, and children will because of this often become impatient on long drives. You might remember yourself constantly asking your parents “are we there yet?” Our prototype is intended to help children from the age of five to ten years understand that traversing vast distances takes time. Our artefact shows the children how far they are on their journey through a tangible and moving car which simulates their trip from “beginning” to “end”. Throughout this journey, the children can take pictures of things along the road which may interest them. These pictures can later be viewed by moving the car along the timeline. By connecting sights on their trip to specific positions on a timeline—thus connecting time and location in their memories—we hope to help children better understand how time feel and moves as a great distance is travelled, even if they are themselves sitting completely still.

Our focus has mainly been on lightweight interactions and rapid feedback, as we see this as very important for impatient kids who want instant feedback when interacting with technology.


INF5205 autumn 2016, Småsnap

– Lone Lægreid, Veronica W. Hansen, Bjørn A. H. Reutz, Mathisas Källström

Our target group for this project is children between the ages of four and eight years old, and the context is that of a kindergarten or a pre-school. Our prototype makes it possible for children to update their parents on the creative works—like drawings—they create throughout their day. At the end of each day, parents will receive one e-mail with all the pictures their children have sent them. By letting the children share their creative work, the parents can more easily gain an insight of what their children are doing when they themselves cannot be around, and can work as a conversation starter for parents when asking their children how their day was. Our goal is to make it easier for parents to be engaged in their children’s day-time life within the kindergarten or pre-school, as well as giving children the possibility to engage their parents by enabling them to share their creative work in (almost) real-time. It might also provide certain learning aspects regarding abstract environments.

During this project we have focused on tangible manipulation, more specifically haptic direct manipulation, lightweight interaction, and isomorph effects. We have also focused on perceived coupling by using familiar physical shapes in context with digital tasks.


INF5205 autumn 2016, MagiCall

– Ingrid Viddal, Pernille Kloster, Jarl Erik Cedergren, Øyvind Byhring

How can children contact each other without having to rely on adults to facilitate their communication? MagiCall allows children to easily call each other, whenever they want, in a fun and playful way. MagiCall is intended to be placed in the child’s room, and serve as a communication device between friends. The physical properties of the door provide a tailored representation for children through the relatable metaphor of a door. Different name tags, which can be placed on the doors as a door sign, represent the door connecting to different friends. By placing a friend’s tag on the door, the green or red light will indicate whether the friend is available or not. Should their friend be available, the friend will receive a knocking on their MagiCall door which mimics the exact rhythm the caller—or knocker—made on their MagiCall. When both of the doors are opened, a connection is established and the children can communicate through microphones. Closing either door ends the session.

INF5205 autumn 2016, exhibition #1
INF5205 autumn 2016, exhibition #2

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