EDPX 3310 Tangible Interactivity (S17)


Catalog Description:

Explores methods and devices for human-computer interaction beyond the mouse and keyboard. Students learn to create and hack electronic input and output devices and explore multi-touch augmented reality, and other forms of sensor-based technologies. Prerequisite: EDPX 2300 or permission of the instructor. Lab fee.

Contact information

Associate Professor Chris Coleman

Office: Room 216A Sturm Hall

Office Hours: 12-2pm Tuesday and Thursday or by appt.

Email: Christopher.Coleman@du.edu

Course Overview

This quarter we are going to dive deep into how to express complex ideas and interactions. Emphasis will be placed on getting things to glow/move/shake with purpose. We will then move on to understanding and cleaning sensor data for robust and responsive interaction. Lastly we will combine everything into systems that provide expressive feedback loops. Much of this will require a much deeper exploration into the coding of these inputs and outputs to make them feel more “human” and less “robot.”

Course Objectives

By the end of this course you will:

  • Have working understanding of expressive coding
  • Understand the process of creating and using DIY electronics
  • Understand the basics of electricity and digital signal communication
  • Understand various kinetic inputs and outputs
  • Understand the basics of how sensors create data
  • Understand how to clean live data to make it usable
  • Consider the consequences and choices surrounding creating complex input and feedback systems


  • A storage device such as a flash drive or portable hard drive with at least 8GB of space and a way to back up your files
  • Student will have to buy various electronic components as needed for projects
  • Reading materials and examples will be supplied digitally on this website


This class will combine individual work in the lab with individual and group instruction. Students must come to class prepared to work. Showing up without necessary files or equipment is the same as not attending. Although students may also use their home computers to work on projects, this is not a valid reason to not attend. It will be necessary to work outside of class to complete all projects and assignments. A minimum of six hours per week of work outside of class is suggested to get an average grade of a C. Computer failure, equipment malfunction, and file corruption are not accepted as excuses for late or unfinished work so BACK UP YOUR WORK. The computer labs are used by many students, so the labs are in high demand. Budget time accordingly as “unavailable computer time” will also not be accepted as an excuse. Participation in all class discussions and critiques as well as constructive use of lab time is considered in the final grade for each project. At any time in the creation process students should be able to produce notes, drawings,charts etc from their sketchbooks, as well as discuss and articulate the nature of their work to their peers as well as to the instructor.

Attendance is mandatory. Attending class is the responsibility of the student. Lectures and demonstrations may be given or changed without notice and many classes will start with professional examples of relevant work so punctuality is essential. An individual who is absent, late or sleeps during class will be responsible for getting the information missed. Students will be allowed two (2) absences without penalty. Any absence in excess of two will result in a 10% grade reduction of the final grade for the course per absence. All absences will be counted. A student who misses 15 minutes or more of a class (late or leave early) is considered absent. A student who sleeps will be considered absent. A student who will acquire absences due to a University sponsored activities must provide necessary documentation from the appropriate office prior to the absence to make any special arrangements for missed work.

For any absence due to religious beliefs, written notification should be provided in the first two weeks of the quarter; the student is responsible for any missed work. Any special medical or personal problems that occur, where absenteeism will exceed the allowed two, will require verification by a physician or emergency medical association (a letter from Student Affairs merely explains an absence, and will not qualify as an excuse). These situations may require course withdrawal or “Incomplete” status on the final grade. Six absences mandate an automatic grade of “F.” Three late arrivals (less than 15 min.) will equal one absence.

Any student who feels they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability or medical condition should contact  the Disability Services Program to coordinate reasonable accommodations.  They are located on the 4th floor of Ruffatto Hall; 1999 E. Evans Ave.303.871. / 2372 / 2278/ 7432.  Information is also available on line at http://www.du.edu/disability/dsp; see the Handbook for Students with Disabilities.

CARE Team (Communicate, Assess, Refer, Educate) – When an undergraduate student is involved in a crisis situation, the Pioneers CARE administrator assigns the case to a member of the CARE team (a group of Student Life professionals). The CARE team steps in to connect students with relevant campus resources and outside agencies. Most times, we may need to communicate with the reporting party to help accurately assess the needs of the student. The CARE Team will also outreach to the student to understand his/her situation and develop a plan of action leading towards his/her success. Pioneers CARE 303-871-2400 or email care@du.edu


Grades will consist of the following:

  • Assignments @ 50%
  • Project 1 @ 10%
  • Project 2 @ 15%
  • Process Blog @ 10%
  • Participation @ 5%
  • Cultural Events 10%

Projects  will be graded on the following basis, listed in order of importance.

  • Development, creativity and originality of concept or problem solution
  • Technical development and demonstration of skills
  • Craftsmanship and presentation of work
  • Participation in classroom discussions and critiques in connection with the work

Your grade will be calculated according to the following standards:

  • A = Excellent (100-90%)- work pushes far beyond the project stipulations and shows clear evidence of extreme time, dedication, care and thought about the project as evidenced in effective execution of original/thoughtful ideas.
  • B = Good (80-89%)- work exceeds the basic criteria, provides creative solutions to the problems and shows technical proficiency. Student has made the project “theirs” in that they do not need to explain project stipulations before showing the work.
  • C = Average (70-79%)- work fulfills all requirements, does not expand on techniques shown in class, ideas are close derivations of popular culture.
  • D = Unsatisfactory (60-69%)- work might meet basic criteria but in a careless and/or thoughtless way. Technical proficiency is rudimentary and no chances were taken.
  • F = Failure (0-59%)- the work does not meet the basic criteria.

Late projects will be penalized a letter grade for every class period they are late. Turning a project in after the beginning of the critique counts as one class day late.

Graduate Student Requirements

Students taking the course for graduate credit will be required to produce one additional project or project feature whose requirements are designed in conversation with the instructor. They will also write a 2 page critique and comparison of 3 Tangible Interaction artworks. For all projects and assignments they are held to a higher standard, reflecting their graduate status.

Cultural Events

Students are required to attend at least 3 cultural events and write a 2 paragraph response (half descriptive and half reflective) for each event as well as include a picture from the event. The cultural event should be related to Emergent Digital Practices and could include performances, lectures, art shows etc. If you are unsure the event is qualified, please ask the instructor ahead of time. The responses should be added to your blog and labeled clearly.

Process Blog

A key piece of your work this quarter will be documenting your process on a blog. The general structure for each entry will be as follows:

  • Research and inspirations: this section should include ideas, quotes, snippets of readings, embedded videos, inspirational images, links related to the course or a current assignment/project
  • Progress and process: this section should include in-progress images of projects and assignments, scanned sketches, descriptions of progress
  • Reflection: Write briefly to evaluate how you are doing and what you have done that week.

It is expected that each entry is comprised of more than two paragraphs of text and several images or other media. These entries must be completed before the start of the Tuesday class period.

Lab Rules

It is your responsibility to adhere to all rules regarding the use of the EDP labs and equipment. You will be given a sheet stating all rules. Please see the program assistant in the EDP office if you need a form to access the EDP lab in 211 Sturm.


Solutions to assignments you submit will be your own work. A student who is discovered to have plagiarized another’s work will immediately receive a grade of F for the course, and a recommendation for disciplinary action will be forwarded to the Dean of Students.


While you are not required to purchase the software that we are using, not having the software is no excuse for failing to complete your projects. It is your responsibility to work out times when you can use the EDP labs or to make other arrangements for doing your work. Please do not download and/or install trial versions of this software or any other onto campus computers. Students will utilize several software packages over the process of this course including Arduino and Processing.

Course Outline

(The following schedule is open to revision at any point in the quarter.)

  • 3/28 – Syllabus, Intros, Example artworks
  • 3/30 – Arduino 101, LED
  • 4/04 – More LEDs, no Delay, PWMs
  • 4/06 – RGB LEDs, RGB vs HSV, light output curve adjustments
  • 4/11 – RGB Arrays
  • 4/13 – Vibrating, Motors, fans
  • 4/18 – Servos, Steppers, Project 1
  • 4/20 – making components/parts (laser, 3D printing, cardboard)
  • 4/25 – Lab Day
  • 4/27 –
  • 5/02 – Project 1 Due
  • 5/04 – Sensors and Data
  • 5/09 –
  • 5/11 –
  • 5/16 –
  • 5/18 –
  • 5/23 –
  • 5/25 –
  • 5/30 –
  • 6/01 –
  • 6/06 – Project 2 Due


– Lecture One


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