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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.

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.

Facts and figures

The programme at a glance

Programme structure

A view of the study programme

About the programme

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.


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.
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).

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.

Modules & Literature


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 give a weekly progress demos and they will receive feedback from their lecturer every two weeks. Half way through the programme there is an extensive formative assessment. The summative assessment of the student will be held at the end of the programme through a demo and presentation.


This course does not have mandatory literature, but lecture and workshops will contain reference to:

  • Human-computer interaction, Alan Dix Prentice Hall ISBN 10: 0130461091 ISBN 13: 9780130461094
  • Human-Computer Interaction: Concepts And Design (ICS) J. Preece, Y. Rogers, H. Sharp, D. Benyon, S. Holland, T. Carey ISBN 10: 0201627698 / ISBN 13: 9780201627695
  • Making Things Talk: Using Sensors, Networks, and Arduino to See, Hear, and Feel Your World 3rd Edition, Tom Igoe ISBN-13: 978-1680452150, ISBN-10: 1680452150Smar materials interfaces, tangible user interfaces, user experience, interaction design, human computer interaction, rapid prototyping

More specific literature, appropriate to the subjects, will be provided during the exchange programme and during the workshops. In addition, the student is expected to independently search for suitable theory.


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

  • Transcript of records


Where you can find us
Foto van locatie Location

Wijnhaven 107

Wijnhaven 107 3011 WN

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