Seminar: Bio-based Fabrication for Sustainable Interactive Systems / Summer Term 2024




Type Seminar (7CP)
Time Wednesday, 4-6 pm
Place E1.7
Language English
Links tba


In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, there is a growing awareness of the need for sustainable solutions that minimize environmental impact while still pushing the boundaries of innovation. The seminar aims to address this pressing need by guiding students through the exciting realm of bio-inspired design, interactive technologies, and eco-conscious prototyping. Students will acquire conceptual, technical and practical skills in using bio-based fabrication for fabricating interactive systems.

The seminar offers diverse concrete project themes to work on, each focusing on leveraging biodegradable materials and biomimetic principles to develop interactive systems that not only enhance user experiences but also contribute to a more sustainable future. From biohybrid interfaces and bio-inspired robotics to biofeedback and edible interfaces, students will have the opportunity to learn about innovative concepts at the forefront of human-computer interaction (HCI), biodesign and sustainability. Throughout the seminar, students will be encouraged to think critically about the ethical implications of their designs, considering factors such as environmental impact, accessibility, and ethical implications.


This seminar combines conceptual basics and theory with a practical team project:

To make you familiar with important conceptual and technical foundations, the seminar will begin with a short lecture on biodesign,  which bridges between design, material science and biology to broaden your knowledge and inspire you. The lecture is followed by a reading activity, done individually by each student. You will read several research papers from different domains and give a short presentation that discusses how concepts from each domain can create new opportunities. The presentation 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.

In the team project, you will work together with other students on developing your own bio-based / bio-inspired / sustainable interfaces. In the project, you will gain practical experience by working with unconventional materials and principles originating from nature, which offer affordances that are today under-explored for human-computer interaction. You will learn how to design your own interface, how to fabricate or grow it, and you will gain hardware and digital fabrication experience by realizing a working solution. Additionally, you will develop a critical mindset by challenging existing assumptions, envisioning alternative futures, and critically evaluating the ethical and societal implications of your projects. Creativity, ideation and experimentation will be essential aspects of the project phase.

The following project topics will be presented in more detail at the kick-off session:

  • Biohybrid Interfaces: merging biological and digital systems to create future interactive devices
  • Bio-Inspired and Sustainable Robotics: designing actuated interactive devices inspired by biological systems and principles
  • Biofeedback Interfaces: designing biodegradable sensors to provide real-time feedback on biological signals
  • Edible Interfaces: using edible materials, such as gelatin or agar, to prototype interactive devices that can be consumed after use

Below are the dates of all plenary sessions for the seminar. Please note that attending the plenary and hands-on workshop sessions is mandatory!

Type of Meeting Time Room
Kick-off and Biodesign Introduction (Plenary) May 2nd, 4-6 pm Building E1.7, room 001
Hands-on Workshop Session (Group) Building E1.7, room 001
Milestone 1 Presentation (Plenary) May 29th, 4-6 pm tba
Milestone 2 Presentation (Plenary) July 10th, 4-6 pm tba
Milestone 3 Presentation (Plenary) last week of September, tba tba

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’ll help you to realize a great project.


Please note that because of the close individual supervision the number of participants is limited to 12!  Please register through the seminar portal offered by the computer science department. . This is a master-level seminar, which can also be taken by Bachelor students from 5th study semester and above.

For registration, we require you to submit a brief motivation statement that elaborates on why you want to take this class. It is highly recommended to have passed Interactive Systems and/or HCI.

Literature and Materials

All the reading material and resources will be made available on Moodle. A few inspirational examples :


Prof. Dr. Jürgen Steimle

Madalina Nicolae

Ata Otaran