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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Internets of Material Things (fusion on-site) (EFIE11022)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course brings material language and embodiment to bear on how we think about and design networked technologies. It explores how material practices are contributing to the creation of novel interfaces and embodied human experience with data-driven systems, and critically examines their potential across diverse sectors and scales of human interaction.
Course description This course opens up critical discourses between disciplines, providing the student with the essential building blocks to question dominant imaginaries around the material aesthetics and architectures of internets of things. Topics will include implications for interdisciplinary design processes (including how service design might sit within larger dynamic infrastructures), and ethical concerns with human agency, identity and creativity as a result of the perceptual availability and legibility of interfaces, and the choices individuals and communities get to make about their data.

Students will be introduced to material practices such as textiles for the creation of custom sensors and displays, along with non-technological ideation platforms available for designing flexible infrastructures of things (such as card decks and gaming-informed applications). Inspired by cutting edge case studies, students will synthesise their learning through the development of an interdisciplinary proposal for a service design concept, accounting for human agency and embodiment and reflecting on the value of diverse disciplines in this fast-growing sector. Whatever their previous experience, all students will emerge able to curate the role of material in future product-service-systems, and to interrogate the design values and human experiences embodied by them.

This course is taught over an intensive 2-day block, with some structured activity before and after the intensive.

Taught sessions will cover a mix of time spent on:

(1) Critical comparison of available Internet of Things (IoT) hardware platforms;
(2) Hands-on creation of simple circuits using embroidery techniques and sewable hardware components;
(3) A directed survey of relevant case study projects;
(4) Small group exploration of lo-fi ideation toolkits for designing IoTs;
(5) Developing IoT and/or service design concepts using selected ideation tools;
(6) Creating a video submission.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - On-Site Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities.

Students should be aware that:

- Classrooms used in this course will have additional technology in place: students might not be able to sit in areas away from microphones or outside the field of view of all cameras.

- Unless the lecturer or tutor indicates otherwise you should assume the session is being recorded.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically appraise a range of lo-tech ideation toolkits for IoT concept development.
  2. Analyse material processes for the development of novel sensor and/or display technologies.
  3. Apply or curate strategies for the application of material practices in the innovation of digital and data-driven environments.
  4. Analyse materiality and the potential for human experience in product-service-systems.
Reading List
Indicative reading list:

Key reading:
Dutton, W. (2014). Putting things to work: social and policy challenges for the Internet of things. Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, Vol. 16, No.3.
Greengard, S. (2015). The Internet of Things. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.
Hartman, K. (2014). Make: Wearable Electronics: Design, prototype, and wear your own interactive garments. Make Community, LLC.
Kettley, S. (2016). Designing with Smart Textiles. London: Bloomsbury.
Moggridge, B. (2007). Designing Interactions. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.
PETRAS. Little Books. Available at:
Takayama, L. (2017). The motivations of ubiquitous computing: revisiting the ideas behind and beyond the prototypes. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing Vol.21, pp.557-569.
van den Hoven, J. (2017). Ethics for the Digital Age: Where Are the Moral Specs? Value Sensitive Design and Responsible Innovation. In H. Werthner, F. van Harmelen (eds.), Informatics in the Future, Springer, pp65-76.
Van den Hoven, J. (2013). Factsheet- Ethics Subgroup IoT - Version 4.0. Available at:
Ustek-Spilda, F., Powell, A. and Nemorin, S. (2019) 'Engaging with ethics in Internet of Things: Imaginaries in the social milieu of technology developers', Big Data & Society. doi: 10.1177/2053951719879468.

Online material:
ACM International Conferences on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction:
DRS special interest group, tentSIG (Tangible, Embedded, and Networked Technologies):
Materiability Research Group:
HowToGetWhatYouWant (Kobakant):

Extended indicative reading list

Network platforms, pervasive computing:
Hassan, Q. (2018). Internet of Things A to Z: Technologies and Applications. Wiley Online Library.
Postscapes (2019). IoT Development Kits.
Lueth, K. L. (2019). The 25 best IOT Platforms 2019.
Kettley, S. (2021). Wearables design and development in a shifting public health domain: towards the 'fifth wave'. In A. Godfrey and S. Stuart (Eds.), From A to Z: Wearables in modern medicine. Elsevier.
Kettley, S. (2011). Interrogating Hyperfunctionality. In P. Breedon (Ed). Smart Design. London: Springer. pp. 65-73.

Physical Computing:
Buechley, L. Pepppler, K., Eisenberg, M, and Kafai, Y. (2013). Textile Messages: Dispatches From the World of E-Textiles and Education (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies). Peter Lang Inc.
O'Sullivan, D. and Igoe, T. (2004). Physical Computing. Thomson.

The Internet of Things:
Lindley, JG.., Coulton, P. & Cooper, R. (2018). The IoT and Unpacking the Heffalump's Trunk. in K Arai, R Bhatia & S Kapoor (eds), Proceedings of the Future Technologies Conference (FTC) 2018: Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing. vol. 880, Springer, Future Technologies Conference 2018, Vancouver, Canada, 13/11/18.

Product-Service Systems (PSS):
Valencia, A., Mugge, R. et al (2015). The Design of Smart Product-Service Systems (PSSs): An Exploration of Design Characteristics. International Journal of Design Vol 9, Iss1.
Sakao, T. & Lindahl, M. (2009). Introduction to Product/Service-System Design. Springer-Verlag: London.
Lee, B, Cooper, R & Hands, DJ 2018, Are Traditional NPD Processes Relevant to IoT Product and Service Development Activities? A Critical Examination. in Design Research Society 2018 Conference. vol. 6, Design
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By working with both infrastructure (networks) and material (interfaces), students will develop an agility in seeing data-driven systems from different perspectives and at different scales. Through collaborative work and individual reflection, they will be able to articulate the value of, and situate a wide range of disciplines, within data-driven worlds.
KeywordsNetworks,internets,materials,materiality,service design,interaction design,making
Course organiserDr Sarah Kettley
Tel: (0131 6)51 5836
Course secretaryMr David Murphy
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