You will develop a computer-based prototype for a digital tool that does not yet exist. This tool should be an aid for some kind of physical or spatial activity, but it does not necessarily have to be practical. In other words, your digital tool is meant to facilitate, enhance, or enable a physical human activity, but it can provide an entertainment or sensorial element rather than a functional role. Example: Many surfers use online tools like to help decide where and when to surf. A great variety of data is collected locally and from remote buoys including wind direction, wave height, tide levels, swell patterns, etc. How could such an tool be improved so that the information is easier to understand or quicker to integrate into your routine? What if you could take such a digital tool with you – on a waterproof wristband interface, for example, or built into the surfboard itself? What if the information were communicated through color, sound, vibration, etc.? How would one navigate this information? What if the surfer were far-sighted, and could not see the screen up close? How would that affect the visual elements and their layout?

1. Project groups must consist of 3 people. You may NOT work alone. Group collaborations ensure a wider knowledge base and allow you to delegate work. You have a lot of freedom in choosing your topic. Here are some guidelines to help you pick a good one: 2. Rely on your own interests, hobbies, sports you play, activities you engage in. You are your own best case study! You will form groups based on these common interests. 3. Research: What already exists as a product, service or art project, that engages some of the same goals or technologies you are interested in here? Which technologies would allow this idea to be realized? 4. Your project must be an interface between humans and their physical environment. 5. Your project must have a substantial user interface. 6. Creative, original projects are preferred. Ideally you will focus on a specialized narrow problem or situation. A radical change in the way the task is done should be considered, based on emerging communication and computing technologies. Make sure you research the underlying technology and have an understanding of it, even though we are not actually engineering hardware! 7. It must at least be possible to simulate your project on the desktop, since your prototype will be such a simulation. 8. You may NOT produce prototypes for the following devices: A navigation device, since these already exist in abundance (navigation can be one function of your device, but it can’t be the only function.) A diet monitoring device – these already exist in abundance.


In this first phase of your Course Project you’ll work independantly. Initial Preliminary Proposals are due Thursday April 10 at the beginning of Lab Section. They will be shared with the class. By the end of Lab April 10 you must be in a group, based on your common interests and the activity or content you want to work with. Your initial proposals should be an adventurous, inspiring idea that seeks to expand our understanding of what computing is. You should present 2 ideas. It should be about a page long, and include the following parts: 1. Problem. Describe the problem(s) that your project will seek to solve. Take the user’s point of view. Consider what the user's goals are, and what obstacles lie in the way. 2. Target users. Characterize the user population that faces the problem you're trying to solve. 3. Solution. Describe a possible solution to the problem, i.e., the interface that you envision, and how it will address the problem. You aren't committed to your solution, since you will be working in groups based on either one of the ideas presented – or on a completely different idea. 4. Research. Use the google links on our website to improve your search skills. See if there are tools that already exist for this or a similar situation. Provide a list of existing tools that attempt to solve the same or a similar problem. How will yours be different? Provide research on relevant technologies as well (some potentially useful technologies are listed on our class website).

1. Consider one of your hobbies or sports as inspiration for your device. Choose an activity you know well to serve as a basis for your device. Working through familiar activities should help you come up with a good project idea. 2. Consider what is available or emerging in the way of sensor technology. For example consider technology that reads the weather or other physical information. Consider ubiquitous computing – now as WiMax (outdoor high bandwidth) is finally offered. Consider location sensitive communication (GPS, RFID, Bluetooth, etc.). 3. Research any useful technologies according to the problem you are trying to solve, and the environment you are in. Will the user be indoors or outdoors? What kind of information will they need access to? What physical limitations or requirements are imposed by your target audience and by their particular activity? In what form should this information be expressed (text, symbols, diagrams, sound, speech, color, animation, images, vibration, scent, changes in shape, etc)? 4. You will ultimately be working together with a small group on this project. You can think in terms of selling your idea to the class. Your ultimate goal is to work with a committed group. Or you can think in terms of joining a group with ideas that are interesting to you. Take notes while listening to presentations of these proposals. 5. Students are expected to spend about 8 hours per week outside of a 4 credit studio class on homework. Your assignments should reflect this time commitment.

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