Practices, technologies, and challenges of constructing and programming physical interactive prototypes

Andrea Alessandrini

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The prototyping process is a key phase in the design of interactive systems. Designing connections and communications for computational elements is a challenging part of constructing physical interactive prototypes. The goal of this study is to explore and describe the practices and technologies used in the construction of physical interactive prototypes in a university course on interaction design. This study reviews constructed physical interactive prototypes, presents excerpts of interviews with students, and analyses students’ blogs. In particular, the study describes and analyzes how connections and communications were made and which components and technologies were used in a course on interaction design. Finally, the implications of the findings of this study are discussed.
Fieldwork observations, semi-structured interviews, and project blog analyses were used to gather data that were used to answer the research questions. The findings showed that communication between hardware and software components is complex. In certain situations, data and information are necessary to activate and establish a communication session. The findings revealed a fluid and dynamic communication model in which data and information could be conveyed from both hardware and software.
Although prototyping is a creative activity that requires experimentation and design-thinking skills, most tools used today do not fully support these processes. Prototyping tools require an approach that is different from that used in engineering.
In design it is fundamental to soften technology to make it quick, imaginative, and easy in order to shape the user’s experience. Prototyping tools should permit smooth transitions between different solutions, thus enabling easy and fluid
rearrangements of components and behaviors according to the system’s requirements. Such tools would permit fluid control of the prototyping process according to the designer’s skills, objectives, development phase, and context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman-Computer Interaction
Subtitle of host publicationDesign and Evaluation
EditorsMasaaki Kurosu
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9783319209012
ISBN (Print)9783319209005
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2015

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743


  • prototyping process
  • interaction design
  • protoyping tools


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