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Computing has now gone beyond conventional devices, involving technology that is constantly carried on by people, embedded within appliances, vehicles, walls, furniture, and pervasively used in most human activities. Interaction today may take place without keyboards, mice, or monitors, and involves novel devices and new paradigms, e.g., based on touch or touchless gestures.

This “digital revolution” has pinpointed that in *any* modern application the quality of the user experience (how well the user interacts with a system and how happy and rewarded s/he is in doing so) is a key factor for success and the end user should be at the center of the design process.

Working in this arena requires not only high-level technical competence but also the capability of mastering new paradigms for interaction (e.g., mobile, tangible, touch and touchless) and understanding all the ingredients that make a user experience “good”. Such ingredients include technical quality as a fundamental prerequisite, but also comprise utility, i.e., fitness to functional requirements, usability (how easy is to use an interface) and natural and intuitive interaction, especially in contexts where gestures, touch, or other means of dialoguing with a system are involved.

A good user experience is like an electric light: when it works, nobody notices it; when it does not work well, everybody is disturbed. A good user experience seems obvious, but what is not obvious is how to design, prototype and implement it. Nor it is trivial how to systematically assess such quality, during and at the end of the development process.

Thus the main goal is this course can be defined as follows: to foster the development of skills that are crucial today for building successful applications, and to help students learn how to design, create, and evaluate interactive systems that ensure a positive, successful user experience. We also hope to stimulate "thinking out of the box" and conceiving innovative solutions that involve non traditional interaction and may become successful in the real world.


The format of the course comprises ex-cathedra lessons, demos, discussion of research projects, industrial seminars, and project work.

Lessons will present and discuss technologies, processes, and methods that have been created within the broad discipline named Human-Computer Interaction, schedule:

  • The development process for interactive applications
  • User requirements elicitation methods
  • Scenario based design
  • Prototyping techniques and tools
  • User experience quality evaluation (with a special focus on inspection and user testing methods for usability assessment)
  • Web and branding
  • Interaction paradigms “beyond-the-desktop”: mobile interaction, tangible interaction (i.e., interaction with physical objects), multitouch interaction with small and large (tabletop) displays, touchless gesture based interaction
  • Programming gesture-based interaction using MS Kinect

Demos will offer examples of applications – either commercially available or developed in research contexts – that adopt innovative paradigms of interaction or implement original design solutions in specific application domains (e-learning, e-culture, e-commerce)

Six industrial seminars will take place during the course, involving representatives of major worldwide players in the field of interactive technologies: Google, Microsoft, Nokia, RIM, Samsung, Intel. The detailed schedule can be found here

These seminars aim at

  1. proving an overview of the technological solutions adopted by these companies in the arena of new devices – smartphone, tablet, and interactive tv;
  2. introducing the programming techniques and development toolkits available for the different platforms;
  3. discussing the business perspectives in this growing market.

Please notice that for organizational reasons some seminars will take place outside the course hours and will be located in conference rooms other than the course classroom.

The project work will start approximately after one month since the beginning of the course, will be interplayed with the above activities, and will be carried on under the regular supervision of teachers. Its goal is to help students apply the methods and techniques presented in the course by working on real problems and requirements (see section “Test and Evaluation”)

Prerequisites: none; students can benefit from having attended the "Hypermedia applications: Web and Multimedia" course.

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