Developing Embedded Interactive Systems with the Arduino Microcontroller


Seminar (for M.Sc. Students only)
Language: English
Maximum number of participants: 10

Embedded interactive systems are getting increasingly widespread. Smart objects, the Internet of Things, mobile and wearable computing lead to an increasing number of physical objects getting instrumented with computer control and interaction. Embedded microprocessor platforms help developers and designers of such systems to ease and speed up development. Therefore embedded programming and basic electronics become essential skills for developing the next generation of human-computer interfaces.

In this seminar, participants will learn in a practical project how to develop embedded interactive systems. The class is centered on the Arduino platform, a widely used and developer-friendly microcontroller. The seminar will cover the following topics:

  • Overview of microcontrollers
  • Arduino platform
  • Microcontroller programming and development workflow
  • Basic electronic circuits
  • Sensors, displays, actuators
  • Communication protocols (e.g., I2C)
  • Design methodology for embedded interactive systems

Student teams (typically 3 people) define their own project idea, in consultation with the instructors, and realize it as a working embedded interactive system. Areas for topics are: smart objects, smart spaces, future mobile devices, wearable computing.


This seminar is organized in cooperation with HackSaar, Saarbrücken’s local maker space. HackSaar is an open space for people fascinated by technology, making and hacking. Maker spaces are an emerging movement in many cities world-wide. The goal of maker spaces is to provide a creative room for exploring novel technology, getting hands-on experience with electronics and IT technology in general, all in a creative, liberal and self-directed atmosphere. Besides acquiring advanced technical skills, the joint project with HackSaar will allow students to get to know the principles of maker spaces and connect to people outside academia who build electronics. In this seminar, the scientific and conceptual aspects will be worked on in classes and meetings on campus. The practical development will take place at HackSaar. A membership at HackSaar is not required.


— Prior registration is mandatory, see below. —
Introductory session on Thursday, April 17, 14:00 – 15:30 on campus (E1.7 R. 008).
Weekly practical sessions at HackSaar, St.-Josef-Straße 8, 66115 Saarbrücken, at 4:15 PM.
Additional project meetings on campus will be individually defined.


  • Strong interest in embedded interactive systems
  • No prior knowledge in electronics or hardware is required
  • Previous classes on Human-Computer Interaction are a plus, but not required


  • J. Noble: Programming Interactivity, O’Reilly, 2009
  • P. Scherz and S. Monk: Practical Electronics for Inventors, Mc Graw Hill, 3rd edition, 2013
  • H. Ishii and B. Ullmer: Tangible bits: towards seamless interfaces between people, bits and atoms, CHI ’97: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, ACM, 1997, pp. 234-241
  • J. Krumm (Ed.): Ubiquitous Computing Fundamentals, Chapters 1 and 6, CRC Press, 2010

    How to apply

    Given space restrictions, we can accept only a maximum of 10 participants. Please apply with a brief letter that states (1) what is your motivation in attending this seminar, and (2) a brief sketch of a project idea (together half A4 page). Please indicate what classes you have already taken in the field of Human-Computer Interaction and/or hardware-related topics. If you would like to team up with a specific student, please indicate the person(s) name(s).