Responses, First Thoughts

1. Tom Igoe – Igoe seems to have most of the trends covered, the only thing I could potentially see being added would just be adding any artifact to the “Internet of Things”. People have fallen in love with making things “smart” and it seems like they are willing to try it with anything and everything, which to me, seems like a bit of a fruitless venture that does not offer very high ROI in terms of helping people solve real problems. I’m sure there are still “smart” artifacts that have not been made “smart” yet and people have to push the envelope to get to those, but the concept has come up a lot in recent memory. I also think that there is some overlap in some of the concepts that Igoe mentions that have also been a major part of the interactive art installation trend that has emerged. Groups like teamlab ( and Artechouse ( have been designing and showcasing interactive experiences using physical and digital sensors that play with and affect different visual displays (*couch* LED fetishism), soundscapes and visual components. I think there will continue to be a trend to use physical computing for art’s own sake compared to having a function.

2. I feel like Banks’ thoughts on the man and and his “smart” space-suit illustrate the achievements and dangers of great design. On the more obvious end of the good stuff, the suit is able to care for and assist the man who is slowly being burdened by sickness, malnutrition and injuries, carrying him farther than he could have ever carried himself. I have always learned that good design is good design because a user doesn’t even realize it is there. Deeper than when people talk about their phones being an extension of themselves, the space-suit becomes intrinsically tied to the man’s being. By the end of the story, the lines have blurred to the point where neither “being” knows where one starts and the other begins. In some ways, that is great design in that it allows the “artifact” to best be used/know how to help the user. On the other hand, that is one of the pitfalls of great design in that sometimes the “artifact” may not give the user the space to be a user, instead forcing him or her to rely on it so much to where they lose their own sentience at the artifact’s expense. The story itself seemed to be cautionary tale for designers, to balance the role of the user and the artifact and the relationship between the two.

3. Not sure if this was supposed to be part of the blog post, but just to cover my bases… In addition to the pre-reqs, I did my undergrad in mechanical engineering with concentrations in design, manufacturing, and psychology,  I have done a semester of improv, I have worked with designers to make accessible museum exhibits and experiences, I took an Intro to EE class in undergrad about microcontrollers, my Senior Design Project was a thermal energy control system run by Arduinos, I know SolidWorks and CREO and Maya, and I’ve laser cut and 3D printed and milled and used most woodshop tools you can think of.

Week 01 (M) Reflection/Assignment

Reflection/Assignment #01

  1. Review Tom Igoe’s page that we looked at in class. Any changes you would make?

As a design major student, I think that it is (extremely) difficult to create a thing that no one has thought about. Sometimes, I have to confront the reality that my creation has similar aspects with others’, even though I didn’t even know anything about them when I was designing something. I do agree with the idea that we all came here to make new and meaningful things, not the duplicate of the previous ones. However, I’d want to say that since we (at least, I) do not have much experience in designing physical interactions, and t might be helpful to think about what makes those works in Tom Igoe’s page popular and interesting. That would be a great start.


2. Descendant Review

It was interesting that the writer saw the relationship with a human and a machine (a smart suit) from a different perspective. Also, even though I do not know anything about the background or the premise of this fiction, the clues kept being thrown through the conversation between two characters. I could understand they both participated in a war and they became lost on a planet by a wrecked module after the explosion.

I could guess that the premise of this story is in the far future – because of the smart suit, which has full intelligence so that it can make a decision by itself. Also, it seems like it is equipped with various types of technology, such as sunlight panel and self-recycling system. But things that I could see in the present days are also shown. Especially, the camera is the item that holds all previous memory of the person (dead body).

The communication makes the border between the human and the intelligent machine blurry. It was impressive to see that the machine says “I hurt.” at the end of the story. How can we differentiate human from the AI machines? Is this how human-machine symbiosis look like? Which one is alive and which one is dead? Some serious questions pop up into my mind while I was reading this story.


3. Related Skills:

I am an interaction/UX designer who is studying at the Master of Design program. I have an industrial design background for my undergraduate.

It would be helpful to write keywords of my experience – Design Thinking, UX/UI, Interaction Design, User Research, Service Design, System Design, Industrial Design.

The tools I could use for design/prototyping are Sketch, Principle, After Effects, Cinema 4D, Rhino 3D, Fusion 360, Keyshot, Laser cutter, 3D printer, and etc. I did some simple Arduino projects before, but not that proficient at coding. I’m open to learning more about it!

Responses & First Thoughts

Tom Igoe:

While I definitely understand the critique of many of the physical computing themes, I suppose my only concern about disregarding or looking down upon the themes can be counterproductive when trying to design better solutions for solving problems. Although perhaps one, two, or maybe three of the themes might be a Frankenstein of a project, I wonder if by combining multiple aspects of multiple themes or even implementing some aspect of one of the themes could ultimately help a new project interface with a user. I guess what I mean is that the discussed themes can be boring when they’re repeated over and over, they might have something to offer a project that has hit a brainstorming/troubleshooting roadblock.


The short story presents an interesting take on human reliance on technologies that, in at least some regard, are objectively better, smarter, stronger, or more efficient. After a devastating crash, the individual and the suit are thrust upon a tireless never-ending journey through an unforgiving planet. What is interesting, and also representative of humanity to an extent, is the habit of the individual to complain. The heat, the sweat, the smell, and every bit of discomfort is detailed throughout the individual’s journey. This isolates a very critical part of humanity, our insistence on not adapting, that there is a way to solve problems and to adjust for what we aren’t capable of or aren’t designed to do. And this also presents an intriguing dichotomy of humans discarding technology as soon as there is better in contrast with technology being designed to cover for all of our deficiencies.

The story also focuses on the interaction between the human and the suit. One party experiencing a organic concoction of pain, desire, and confusion with the other sensing what is physically, mechanically, and chemically possible in the former. This disconnect leads to two paths, one which points out the lack of appreciation, at times, of what we have and what is made possible through technology, and another which defines a critical issue when interacting with technology in the complexity of communication that must be felt and sensed.

And last thing, I thought this quote was interesting:

“We created something a little closer to perfection than ourselves; maybe that’s the only way to progress” (63)

In creating things that are closer to perfection compared to ourselves, are we bridging that disconnect? I wonder about when that disconnect disappears, does technology cease to exist? Do it merge with us and do we become one entity?

Related Skills:

I have taken an Architecture course dealing with accessibility called Human Factors in which we studied, among other related topics, how various places on- and off-campus are architecturally hostile and exclusive to someone in a wheelchair. I have had experience in theater and acting in high school, which has been a smaller part of my experience in university. In regards to digital fabrication, I’m familiar with laser cutting, CNC-ing, and operating architectural robots.

Intro and Reading

[EDIT:  Sorry, I forgot to mention this earlier.  If you could, please, post your comments in new posts in this category instead of posting a comment to this post. ]

tl;dr: Update your profile on the class blog by noon Thursday, post feedback on the reading assignments.

Review Tom Igoe’s page that we looked at in class. Any changes you would make?

Read the short story mailed to you tonight.

Ask yourself what skills you have in addition to the pre-reqs:

  • performance skills: music, drama, improv
  • work with disability
  • linux shell
  • javascript / p5.js
  • CAD software
  • digital fabrication – laser cutters, 3d printers, mills
  • game theory

Class Notes: 27 August, 2019

Class Theme – “Accessiblity”

We’re looking at how we can make physical things more accessible.
We do this by improving the human condition by improving living spaces with tangible interaction design.

Nathan Shedroff’s list of interaction components.

  • Assist
  • Enhance
  • Improve
  • Qualify
  • Sense

Introduction to Tangible Interaction

Reaction vs. Interaction

Classic thermostat (temperature sensor and on/off switch) vs. smart thermostat (PID controller or AI google hive mind)
Tangent: explain how PID is different from a sensor + relay
Explain how machine learning is different from PID


  • What if we had a smart (AI) thermostat?
  • change heating/cooling controls based on history
  • change temperature related to outside environment
  • react to weather changes
  • modulate temp based on who is in the house: I like it warm, spouse likes it cold
  • modulate temp based on predicted activities: “they always stay up late on Friday”
  • error control: “never let the house go below 50F” to prevent pipes from freezing

Short History of Tangible and Interaction Design

Physical computing and tangible interaction design are recently created fields but there is a history of how we got here. The key point is the size (scale) of computing hardware

Water powered tools and windmills
beginning of the PID idea, centrifuges to maintain speed in grain mills

Industrial revolution
early punch-card computing
steam engines that can react to malfunctions
sophisticated PID for steam engines

Transistors as second industrial revolution
first computers that didn’t fill buildings

Beginning of HCI
1976: first use of “human-computer interaction” in a published paper
1983: The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction brings the concept to the general computing community

Early arcade games with haptic outputs/feedback (helicopter game that shakes when you are shot)

Modems and broadband access
Interaction moves from an isolated software package to a network of software packages
People can interact with other people at distant locations
People can interact with systems
Still no physical interaction

Mobile phones
contains sensors, CPU, network access
has output in the form of image, sound, and vibration

first affordable, usable embedded controller
opened up a market of input/output hardware
set the space for Rpi, BBB, etc

Five years from now
where we’re thinking in this class

What can we do in this class?
Study physical computing and interaction
Look at near future concepts
Design, build, and demonstrate physically interactive devices and systems