International Design Congress - IASDR 2005
International Association of Societies of Design Research (IASDR).
Yunlin, Taiwan
November 1th - 4th 2005

Chinese Institute of Design (CID)
National Yunlin University of Science and Technology (NYUST), College of Design



Titel of the Paper:
Teaching Students How to Ware their Computer


Michel Guglielmi
University of Aalborg, department of Medialogy, Denmark

Hanne-Louise Johannesen
University of Copenhagen, department of Visual Culture, Denmark


This paper intends to present the goal, results and methodology of a workshop run in collaboration with Visual Culture (humanities), University of Copenhagen, the Danish academy of Design in Copenhagen and Media lab Aalborg, University of Aalborg.
The workshop was related to a design competition open to European education based design institutions, connected to the Cumulus network. 39 European institutions participated in the competition.

The overall topic was: ‘How can design improve life?’ investigated through categories as body, home, work, and communication. In our workshop, we proposed to address this question trough the angle of what we called ‘Physical Computing’ and asked ourselves and the students if new fields like ‘tangible media’ or ‘wearable computers’ can contribute to improvements of life? And whose life improvement are we aiming for?

Computers are a ubiquitous part of practically every interaction in our lives, from light switches and cash machines to entertainment, education, healthcare and governmentally protection systems. So far most computers are parted from their user who has to interact on a distance with a screen-based interface. Mobile computers have increased the mobility but the operationability is still obtained through screens and buttons and as something to wear it is still not integrated with everyday use and comfort as clothes.
A wearable computer should be worn, much like eyeglasses or clothing and interact with the user based on the context of the situation. Through the workshop the students were encouraged to disrupt the myth of how a computer should be used and to focus on the human-human interaction (HHI) through the computer rather than human-computer interaction (HCI).

The physical computing approach offered furthermore a unique opportunity to break down classical barriers between material (Industrial design, fashion design, space design) and immaterial design (Visual design, digital design.) A barrier very present in most of design schools, since they reflect the reality of the design practice. Furthermore the collaboration with external and research based institutions increased the depth of the design solutions. We took advantage of the constellation of students from material design, immaterial design and humanities and insisted that the students worked simultaneously with low-tech methodological tools for investigating the field of design, like ‘paper prototyping’ and prototypes based on advanced sensor technology (Pressure sensors) and other devices like E-ink. Not in order to develop gadget but to develop systems able to support HHI.

The final output for the competition was a 3 minutes video presenting the core ideas of the project as well as the research work. This constraint in time and means offered the opportunity to investigate into the most efficient ways to communicate the message to the reviewers.

Physical Computing, Wearables, Human-Human Interaction (HHI), Design Education, Sensor Technology