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Smart materials for behavioral change

Exchange programme

Did you ever wonder how an interface has the power of changing your own behaviour? People adapt to interfaces, rarely interfaces adapt to people.

The focus of this exchange programme, “Smart materials for behavioural change”, is the development of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) solutions aimed at engaging and informing users to lead them to change a specific behaviour. You will learn how to create tangible user interfaces, how to make them with smart materials as interactive elements and how to experiment with real users.

Tangilbe user interfaces

This exchange programme is a bridge for students who want to further develop their skills in creating (tangible) interfaces while focusing on the production of real life demos (creation of prototypes) with rapid prototyping kept in mind. With the new opening market of Internet of Things (IoT), a lot of new opportunities for tangible user interfaces are arising rapidly. The role of the interaction designer with in-depth knowledge of both interaction and technologies becomes more important to the success of lunching new products. Also, the ability of quickly prototype ideas and functional mock-up is a key element in most of the new start-up development processes.

Please note that the Smart Materials for Behavioral Change exchange programme needs a minumum of 15 students (both international and domestic) to go ahead. If the applications are below that number the programme is cancelled.

Facts and figures

The programme at a glance

Programme information

What to expect

About the programme


Students must be aware that programming is an essential element throughout this programme. Please prepare yourself before the programme starts if you have very little programming experience (for example in Python)

Building computer controlled prototypes

A global theme (with some constraints) will be given at the beginning of the course. The students will be divided into small groups. They will formulate questions to delimit the design problem in the field of behavioural change and will build interactive computer controlled prototypes (with programming and hardware developed with smart materials). Furthermore, they will try to prove concrete answers by conducting on field applied research (experiments) and then finalize a tangible computer controlled prototype.


The entire process will be closely supervised with the help of experts coming from different fields, inside and outside school, from research and working environments.

The programme spans throughout first semester and will include the following themes:

  • Human computer interaction
  • Introduction to programming (for who needs it)
  • Design life cycle
  • Rapid prototyping in software (with various technologies and frameworks, ex.: processing, python, vvvv etc.)
  • Rapid functional mock-up production for tangible user interfaces (with Arduino and smart materials)
  • User experiments methodologies

In the first period we will focus on more generic topic to help define the problems and the solutions, gradually giving more workshops and details to implement the solutions later into the course.

Examples of previous student projects in the programme

  • Smart chair that gives out signals to corrects your sitting posture
  • A box that lets smokers vote on a statement by putting their cigarette butt in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ hole. The statement relate to stimulating the use of the stairs
  • An interactive tool that helps to battle a ‘foggy brain’ to aid concentration
  • Interactive installation with moving origami flowers that respond to the use of stairs


Project development

The course will be structured mostly with project development in mind. Group work will take a main role in the development of the project. Lectures (especially in the introductive part), workshops and activities (as time goes on or in need base) will be provided at the students.

Learning by doing

The whole activity will be based on "Learning by doing": practical cases to bring the students into contact with relevant and applicable concepts. Knowledge-driven workshops will be organized to ensure that any shortcomings in technical knowledge of the students are supplemented. Guest lectures will be given by experts in the relevant domains to transfer the domain knowledge on the themes and subjects that will be treated and necessary to the final demo. In addition to the knowledge-driven workshops, there will also be practice-based workshops, organized by the participating companies with, among other things. The result of the research will be periodically checked with the demo/review meetings, the result of which will be visible in the finalized project.

The project

Each group of students will have to tackle a problem (provided by the teaching staff), analyse it, and develop a tangible user interface as a solution (the project). During this process the students will pass through different design stages, possibly with multiple iterations. Each group will test their solutions during the programme and will present it. Each project will be evaluated based on different aspects (design process, solution, tests, iterations, both in quality and in-depth).

Type of assessment

This programme does not have separate modules of different ECTS that have a combined total of 30 ECTS. The 30 ECTS are awarded in full at the end of the programme. In order for the students to obtain the learning goals and to monitor progress the students are required to have an active role in the following:

  • Small group projects in block 1
  • Providing peer feedback in block 1
  • Feedback processing throughout the programme
  • Deliverables of the final project in block 2 (prototype en qualitative evaluation)

During the first period of ten weeks students create and present small prototypes using smart materials every week and receive formative feedback from the lecturer and fellow students on their work.

The second teaching period the students work in small teams/duos on a final smart materials project of their own choosing. Throughout the period the students receive formative feedback on the process and product.

The final assessment takes place at the end of the semester through the assessment of the project portfolio and final presentation of the delivered product. The assessment has a group and individual component and focuses on both the process throughout the project and the delivered product. If the final assessment grade is below 5.5 the student has the opportunity to retake (part) of the project in consultation with the lecturer. On passing the final assessment the student receives the 30 ECTS of this exchange programme in full.

Learning outcomes

The student will learn the following by the end of this course:

Knowledge and insight: The student will be able to research current design issues of interactive tangible interfaces. Furthermore, the students acquire knowledge and insight in relation to one or more topics in the HCI domain that fit the themes of this programme.

Apply knowledge and insight: Through a demonstration the students show their ability to make the transfer from technical knowledge acquired earlier in the course to a new application domain (tangible user interfaces) and a design to realize innovative solutions.

Judgement: The student will study an HCI problem by researching and analysing the problem with all the related components and chosen aspects based on their own choice on the (real-life) problem and the degree of priority and attention to explore such aspect, to test and verify.

Communication: The students will have to communicate effectively in the group environment. The students will be able to convincingly present their own innovative solution, e.g. through an elevator pitch or short demo, so that the audience of experts not only gains substantive insight into the technology and the important aspects of the solution, but will be also willing to continue developing this solution in a follow-up iteration.
Learning skills: The student will have to demonstrate initiative and autonomy by studying the research independently in the application domain.


Period 1     
Week 1 Introductio to the programme, assignin project groups and project assignments, introductory lectures
Week 2 - 8 Combination of (guest)lectures and working on small HCI projects (supervised and unsupervised), working towards the proposal of a final HCI project for block 2.
Week 9 - 10 Half-way assessments of progress and assessment of proposal for block 2.
Period 2 
Week 1 - 8 Combination of (guest) lectures and working on the large HCI project (supervised and unsupervised) and testing the prototype at various stages of development
Week 9 - 10 Final assessment of progress and project


After completing your exchange programme at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, you will receive a:

  • Transcript of records


An indication how the programme is structured


Where you can find us
Foto van locatie Location

Wijnhaven 107

Wijnhaven 107 3011 WN

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