Seminar : Physical Computing


Type Seminar (7CP)
Time Wednesday, 10:00-12:00 (First Kick-off: October 25, 2017)
Place Bld. E1.7 (MMCI), Room 001
Language English
Links Course moodle, LSF


The goal of this seminar is to acquire basic conceptual and practical skills in developing physical user interfaces for interactive devices and objects. These user interfaces extend interaction beyond a screen and leverage the benefits of physical interaction in the real-world. Examples comprise wearable fitness trackers, interactive furniture, or computer-augmented lego bricks for children.

The seminar will cover the following topics:

  • Conceptual basics of physical user interfaces: Ubiquitous computing, tangible interaction, embodied interaction
  • Basic Electronics
  • Microcontroller Programming (Arduino)
  • Sensing Physical Interactions
  • Prototyping and digital fabrication (3D printing, milling and cutting)
  • Application Areas(Wearable user interfaces and Internet of Things)


This seminar has been designed to be open-ended allowing for ideation and experimentation. Some of the successful projects resulting from the previous versions of this seminar (Interactive Jacket for Cyclists, Ambient Flower, Sprinter, Interactive Dancing Socks) have been featured on Instructables website garnering a number of views.

As a part of the seminar, students will work on a practical project in a team. In the project, you will gain practical experience with sensors, actuators, and digital fabrication by developing a physical computing user interface. We will present a list of potential project topics in the first week. Students can choose from these or propose their own ideas for projects.

The seminar will also involve three reading activities, done individually by each student. For every reading activity, you will have to read one or more research papers and hand in a written report that discusses these papers. Reports should summarise the key aspects, and more importantly, should include original and critical thought that show you have acquired a meta level understanding of the topic.


Please note that because of the close individual supervision the number of participants is limited to 15!

Please register by sending an e-mail to with the following details:

  • A brief statement about your motivation for attending this seminar and details on your programming experience, including what project(s) you have already implemented.
  • Please indicate your study program, your semester of study as well as the classes you have already taken in the field of Human-Computer Interaction.
  • If you would like to team up with a specific student, please indicate the person(s) name(s).

Students who have successfully completed the lecture “Physical Computing” are not eligible to take this seminar.

This is a master-level seminar, which can also be taken by Bachelor students from 5th study semester and above.

Literature and Materials

All the reading material and resources will be made available on Moodle.


Prof. Dr. Jürgen Steimle
Aditya Shekhar Nittala, MSc.
Adwait Sharma, MSc.