IDG4112 - Research by Design and Tangible Interaction


This course is no longer taught and is only available for examination.

Course content

The students explore practice-based, Research-by-Design methods for prototyping, creating and sketching physical, tangible and interactive services and interfaces (AI, Internet-of-Things).

We humans interact in a tangible, multisensory, social and physical world. Therefore Tangible Interaction Design has a particular potential for creating and investigating the emergent design qualities, occurring through interaction in environments and services. Interaction promoting health and well-being, strengthening social relations for diverse users (e.g. children, elderly persons and persons with disabilities, social inclusion in the Covid-19 pandemic, local communities, etc.).

In the course the students combine Scandinavian design traditions of Co-Design, working in teams with diverse stakeholders and users from different cultures/sub-cultures. The goal with the Co-Design is to strengthen empowerment, inclusion and to promote health, with design through tangible, interactive and physical prototyping techniques. These techniques include creating, making and working in diverse materials (e.g. textile, wool, paper, wood, laser cutting, 3D printing, music, video, graphics, sensors, actuators, microcomputers) and re-designing of existing technologies, environments and services.

The students explore Research-by-Design methods, developing knowledge based on hands-on creative brainstorming, Gamestorming design methods, tinkering and making. The students learn how to develop ideas and concepts through co-design in teams with diverse users. The students explore scenario-building and storytelling creating audio-visualisations of possible future uses of prototypes. The scenarios are derived from mapping of cultural values through scripting, de-scripting, re-scripting innovation techniques from Health Promotion and the design of Multisensory Environments. The students continuously learn methods for exhibiting and presenting tangible design concepts and prototypes in a safe and nurturing physical and online professional design environment.

The course includes:

  • Co-creation and physical and visual sketching with diverse persons, users, etc.
  • Tangible Interaction Design through prototyping
  • Research-by-Design methods, Design as research, Reflection-in-action, Practice-based design
  • Culture-based design, Science and Technology Studies
  • Design based on principles in Health Promotion (World Health Organisation), Universal Design, Multisensory Environments
  • Human Centred Design

Learning outcome

After the course the students should be able to:


  • Analyse and discuss the knowledge contribution from a tangible interaction design process (design as research, research-by-design, reflection in action).
  • Analyse and evaluate different designs according to their tangible, embodied, social, cultural, interactive, multisensory and health promoting contribution.
  • Account for theories and practices about design thinking, research-by-design and tangible interaction.


  • Design innovative physical and digital (Internet-of-things, AI) prototypes and services using a structured, iterative process
  • Apply methods for creating ideas and multisensory prototypes in practical and human centred design processes for Health Promotion
  • Develop competence in visual, physical, multisensory, sonic and interactive sketching techniques together with diverse persons, users, etc.

General competence:

  • Participate as a productive member in co-creative group projects with diverse persons, users, etc.

Learning methods and activities

  • Seminars and workshops: mandatory hands-on practice-based workshops in Gjøvik at NTNU’s Makerspace.
  • Physical and online seminars, workshops and supervision based on materials and literature.
  • Online realtime collaborative tools such as Figma, Adobe Xd, Miro, Research Catalogue (for exhibitions, portefolio presentations).
  • Individual essay/home exam
  • Group project report

Mandatory Assignments

  • Sketching and drawing of design together with users
  • Tangible interactive prototyping, design and embedding of electronics (sensors and interactive projects with microcomputers) in diverse materials (e.g. textiles, paper, wood, laser cutting, 3D printing) and re-design of existing products and services.
  • Project group design work
  • Individual exercises
  • Individual prototyping
  • Exhibition of tangible concepts and prototypes, online in Research Catalogue and physically.

Additional information:

  • The course will normally be taught through a series of intensive seminars and workshops on the different course topics. Each seminar/workshop consist of 1-2 seminar days. A total of 8-10 seminars/topics. In addition to seminars there will be project group work, field studies, exercises, prototyping, presentations, exhibitions and observations together with diverse persons, users, clients, etc.

Compulsory assignments

  • Sketching and drawing with users workbook delivery
  • Tangible interactive sketching embedding electronics in diverse materials
  • Concepts and prototypes for group design project

Further on evaluation

  • Group project (60%)
  • Essay/Home exam (40%)

Both parts must be passed separately.

Mandatory assignments must be passed before delivery of group project and individual essay/home exam

Passed partial assessment and mandatory work must not be retaken.

Compulsory activities from previous semester may be approved by the department.

Partial exams can be retaken to improve grade.

Specific conditions

Admission to a programme of study is required:
Interaction Design (MIXD)

Course materials

Pagliano, P. (2012). The Multisensory Handbook: A Guide for Children and Adults with Sensory Learning Disabilities. 1st edition. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York: Routledge.

Banzi. M., Shiloh, M. (2015). Getting Started with Arduino: The Open Source Electronics Prototyping Platform. 3rd edition. Maker Media Inc.

Gray, D., Brown, s., Macanufo, J. (2010). Gamestorming, Sebastopol, California: O'Reilly.

Harari, Y. (2018). 21 lessons for the 21st century. London : Jonathan Cape.

Arduino Uno Board and usb A-B cable, for instance: , . Or starter kit including Arduino Uno board, for instance: (Arduino board and starter kits are also possible to buy from many other international and local online stores)

Selected articles on Research-by-design, Design Research, Artistic Research, Participatory Design, Multisensory and Tangible state-of-the-art projects, etc.

Credit reductions

Course code Reduction From To
IMT4313 7.5 AUTUMN 2019
More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Second degree level



Language of instruction: English

Location: Gjøvik

Subject area(s)
  • Computer and Information Science
  • Design Methodology
  • Interaction Design
  • Applied Electrical Engineering
  • Transition Design
  • Music Technology
Contact information

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Design


  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

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