Project 1 – Master of Control


Desk Crits of Research in-class January I9th

Presentations in-class January 24th & 26th

Documentation due online by January 21th

One way to understand greatness is to look to the greats. Painters often learn the techniques and artistry of the old masters by recreating their paintings. We too can learn to understand interaction design (and inform our peers) by recreating the interactive masterworks of our time.



Each of you will be assigned a couple of interactive product technology masterworks. Many of the systems you will be given are projects or products in the domestic systems space that precede the year 2000 (some by quite a bit). Everyone’s assignments include other, more recent products or services that are related to the first in some way, shape, or form. Some of the assigned topics are conceptual pieces that portray some idea of how technologies of the future will work; others are relevant platforms or products that embody an important interactive technology, a powerful brand experience, or an idea. All of these pieces are touchstones that represent major directions or future visions in interactive design.

Your first task is to perform research to get to know your assigned pieces inside and out. Then, using a combination oflow-fidelity prototyping techniques, recreate the key modes of interaction (you might even say that you are recreating the fundamental user experience). A person who knows something of the assigned pieces you are recreating should find your prototyped interaction recognizable; a person who knows nothing about the piece you are recreating should walk away enlightened as to what this work is famous for.

Be mindful of the interactive experience. What inputs are available to the user? What responses would occur? What sensory modalities are engaged? How does the design of the piece color the experience and relations of the users? What are its strengths and weaknesses? In your re-creation, please present how things work when all is well, but also show what can happen when things go awry, or if the modality is taken too far.

As part of this assignment, you should be sure to present your thoughts about the brand of the masterworks. To what extent is the brand a critical part of the experience? How did the brand contribute to the success or failure of the product, or the underlying ideas? What would some of these historical pieces look like if they were brought into today’s landscape?


Presentation & Critique

The presentation of this project will occur in two parts. The first is an interim presentation as a desk critic this Thursday. Have your research substantially complete, and propose what your recreation will be. Be concise, tell us a little about what you’ve learned so far and are planning to do, but we’ll be helping make sure you’re on the right track.

Next week, you will be presenting the renditions of your interactive masterworks (or some creative mash-up of the  two) in class. You will have 10 minutes to show and tell (probably half-and-half talk and demo, if you need that long), and then we will discuss your recreation and the piece it represents for 10 minutes or so afterwards. Please finish your prepared material with your sketch of the interactive experience, so that we have something  to anchor our discussion  of different  aspects of the  interaction.

It is okay to recruit your fellow students to assist with performing Wizard of Oz techniques and skits for the presentation, but it should be clear that you are directing the performance.



Please summarize your work with a thorough written description of your masterwork,  annotated photos of your recreation (or edited video), and your interaction sketch. Create a self-contained pdf and post it to our Google Classroom by Friday, January 27th. 



Evaluation on this project will be based on the quality of your research, your analysis of the masterwork’s salient interactive features, the inventiveness of your recreation, and  the quality of your presentation and the class’ subsequent discussion.