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Proposal due week 2, Finished project Due week 4

As a warm-up project, students will create a well designed but useless network project that uses one or more remote sensors and/or effectors. This project can have some aspects that are mocked up, but the remote sensors/effectors must work and affect the behavior of the system.

Design a project that assumes a massively networked and sensored world. But take an ironic perspective on this future world, and design a project that either makes fun of it, comments on the dangers, demonstrates some inherent contradictions, or is an otherwise useless, but interesting commentary on the field. Be careful – just because the project’s use of ubiquitous computing is useless, does not mean the project should be meaningless. Be smart and thoughtful in your design.

Students will create their own individual projects, but each project must do one of the following:

  • Have more than one object or space that interact with each other
  • Access another student’s project sensors or effectors and have them integrated into your system – We’ll go over the technical details of how to do this next week.

The idea of this project is to encourage designers to be thoughtful about the new context for design that Ubiquitous computing offers. By defining what would be useless about it, we may understand better The New Ecology of Things potentials. The purpose is also to identify, and then perhaps parody the cliche, obvious, dumb, and overdone uses that might be proposed, to help get them out of our systems so we may design more nuanced and thoughtful applications.

By accessing a remote sensor(s), each project is forced to consider the larger context of designing within a networked ecology. What can one do with multiple sensor feeds? How does one represent remote sensor data? What emerges when disparate feeds are correlated? How do people react when objects and systems have access to more data than the people do? What happens when systems are autonomous and act on their own?


  • Final project presentation
  • Website for project documentation and reflective/critical writing

Previous projects