Technology, Arts and Media Program header

ATLS 3219: Object

Course Description

Introduces the fundamentals of physical computing. Students will design projects that interact with humans and the physical world and will learn to integrate sensors, motors, and simple electronics into creative projects. Projects will include interactive installations, art projects, games, and audio controllers.

Physical computing, in the broadest sense, means building interactive physical systems that can sense and respond to the analog world. This class is an exploration of computing that starts from the perspective that humans are fundamentally physical beings.

Through lectures, hands-on labs and project development, this course serves as an introduction to physical computing. Students will learn how a computer converts the changes in energy given off by our bodies (in the form of sound, light, motion, touch, and other forms) into changing electronic signals that can be read and interpreted. The course focuses on ways to integrate sensors, motors, and simple electronics into interactive objects.

This course takes a hands-on approach, meaning that students will spend a lot of time building circuits, soldering, writing programs, building structures to hold sensors and controls, and figuring out novel ways to make all of these things relate to a person’s physical expression. The primary platform for the class is a microcontroller, and the core technical concepts include digital, analog and serial input and output. The course also focuses on interaction design and what it means to incorporate electronic projects into our lives. Core interaction design concepts include user observation, affordances, and human-centered design.

Weekly lab exercises will require students to build skills with the microcontroller and related tools, and longer projects will apply these principles in creative applications. Introductory-level programming experience is required. Both individual work and group work is required.

Course Objectives

Students who successfully complete this course will:

Critical Thinking & Theory / History:
  • Explore computation and interaction design from the perspective that humans are fundamentally physical beings.
  • Consider the social and cultural impact of interactive technologies.
Design/Creative:
  • Build and explore creative, interactive electronics applications.
  • Utilize an iterative design process that starts with understanding the users you're designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit those identified needs.
Technical:
  • Develop knowledge of physical computing technologies including digital, analog and serial input and output.
  • Learn ways to integrate sensors, motors, and simple electronics into interactive objects.
  • Fabricate creative enclosures for electronics hardware.

Credit Hours

  • 3 hours

Prerequisites

  • None