Designing Physical User Interfaces

Worth: 20%

You are to design an imaginative  physical user interface using phidgets. Ideally, the interface will be designed to work within a domestic (home) environment and would be suitable for the home inhabitants. However, alternate physical interfaces are also acceptable. The interface you create may be practical, artistic, or fun.


Exercise Objectives Pedagogical Objectives
Design a physical user interface that uses your knowledge of ubiquitous computing, tangible bits, and even groupware,  Apply your theoretical knowledge of ubiquitous computing, tangible media, groupware to design creation.
Generate sketched designs in your sketchbook of possible physical user interfaces and their surrounding physical concepts. Develop skills designing out of the box devices using sensors, motors, rfid tags, etc. and how they fit into the environment.
Implement and package your design on the class web site so others can try it. Learn how to program phidgets, and practice techniques for implementing designs.
Create a video-based portfolio summary Experience creating a demonstration video
Demonstrate your system Engage in design critiques

What you will be given

  1. Primary site is: 

  2. Documentation:

  3. Phidget hardware is provided to you. We have a complete stock of almost everything Phidgets Inc. sells (see ). The usual components used are:

Device Description

1 to 4 servo motors that can be rotated to a particular angle between 0-180


8 digital outputs like LEDs, 8 digital inputs like buttons and switches, and four sensor inputs like force, light, touch sensors, etc.


Detects unique RFID tags, where it returns its identifying number


Prints to a small LED display

  1. Readings. Several key readings are listed on the readings page.
  2. These web sites will provide inspirations about project ideas:

  3. To produce videos:

Criteria / Process


A successful implementation is required: if you cannot demonstrate your system, you will automatically receive a zero. As with other assignments, your mark will be based upon: