Seminar: Interactive Touch Surfaces / Winter term 2021


Type Seminar (7CP)
Time TBA
Place TBA
Language English
Links Moodle


Advances in technology have made our homes smarter. Nowadays, most appliances at home (e.g., lamps, heating systems, … ) feature a microcontroller and a touch interface. These interfaces extend interaction beyond a screen and leverage the benefits of physical interaction in the real world. This course focuses on state-of-the-art technologies for touch sensing alongside key questions regarding how we interact using touch on real-world objects and surfaces.

The seminar will cover the following topics:

  • Technologies for touch sensing
  • Prototyping and digital fabrication
  • Gesture detection and classification
  • Applications for robotics, wearable computing, Internet of Things


  • This seminar is offered as a block course during the winter semester break
  • Kick off meeting in late January, handout of readings
  • Practical phase: Feb 21 – Mar 18 — It is mandatory that participants are available full time Mondays through Fridays during this period
  • Final documentation is due April 1st


This seminar combines conceptual basics with a practical team project:

To make you familiar with important conceptual and technical foundations, the seminar will involve three reading activities, done individually by each student. For every reading activity, you will read one or more research papers and hand in a brief written report that discusses these papers. Reports should summarise the key aspects, and more importantly, should include original and critical thought that shows you have acquired a meta-level understanding of the topic.

In the team project, you will work together with other students on developing your own prototype. In the project, you will gain practical experience with technologies for building interactive surfaces and you will gain hardware and digital fabrication experience by realizing a working solution. Creativity, ideation, and experimentation will be essential aspects of the project phase. We will present a list of potential project topics during the kick-off session. Students can choose from these or propose their own ideas for projects. Our experience is that developing your own solution within a team of students can be a lot of fun and lead to impressive results; some of our past student projects have gained remarkable attention on the web and even have received awards (see for instance Interactive Jacket for Cyclists, Interactive Dancing Socks, Ambient Flower, Sprinter).


We anticipate that this course will be on-site with physical meetings. In case the pandemic situation would require it, we would switch to an online format.


  • This is a Master-level seminar, which can also be taken by Bachelor students from the 5th study semester and above.
  • Basic knowledge in hardware programming (e.g., some experience with Arduino) and with simple electronics is a must-have requirement for this hands-on course, e.g., as covered in the lecture on Interactive Systems.


Please note that because of the close individual supervision the number of participants is limited to 7.

Please register through the seminar portal offered by the computer science department: .

  • 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).

Literature and Materials

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


Prof. Dr. Jürgen Steimle

Narges Pourjafarian