Teaching Tangible Interaction: Beyond the Kit of Parts

talk – 30 min | Feb 4 – 11:00

Tangible Interaction Design has grown into a core part of Industrial Design and Interaction programs in recent years, especially in the decade following the wide release of the Arduino platform. Integrating electronics knowledge into a form-making design curriculum presents unique challenges, especially for a student body without engineering backgrounds. The technology itself can be daunting, but it can also dominate the design process, as students grapple with learning to use the new tech.

The Interactive Product Design Lab at the School of Industrial Design at Georgia Tech has been working to update and expand our curriculum to better support our students, who are now highly invested in learning about Tangible Interaction Design. Our introductory course now serves both undergraduates and graduates, both with design backgrounds and without, in the same interdisciplinary learning environment. With student feedback, the course curriculum is updated continuously, and this talk will cover many of the new approaches and adaptations we have taken to better deliver this content.

Tangible Interaction Design benefits from an adapted approach to the looks-like/works-like iterative design process, through the addition of an acts-like model-making stream that focuses directly on interaction. We are also inspired by Hannah Perner-Wilson’s craft-oriented “kit-of-no-parts”, and have worked to move our students beyond the basic Arduino kits to start developing their own sensors. This takes advantage of a design-native material exploration approach, and allows for more novel and flexible form development and interaction. Using these tools, our students are guided to create their own games built around novel game controller interactions - this talk will present the process and findings from these explorations.

James Hallam

James Hallam
Redmond, Washington

About the speaker

James Hallam

James Hallam

Redmond, Washington

Following 20 years as an interface designer, strategist, and design consultant, James is now pursuing his PhD in Industrial Design at Georgia Tech. His research is focused on wearable technology and stroke rehabilitation, looking at the impact design choices have on patient adherence. James works as an Instructor at Georgia Tech – teaching “Introduction to Interactive Products” – which covers interactive prototyping, technical skills, design process, and storytelling. He is pursuing a Minor in Technology Commercialization through the GT School of Business, and has spent the last 5 years consulting as a Design Strategist. James grew up on a small island on Canada’s west coast, which makes him an expert in Gore-Tex, sandstone tide pools, and adding maple syrup to everything.

Specialties: Wearable Technology, Industrial Design, Design Strategy, Service Design, Interaction Design, Design Research, Sustainable Design, Communication Design

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