Interactive Design

The core of any design is a challenge. This can be as simple as the basic architectural challenge of providing shelter, or as complicated as keeping the global climate in a hospitable state. In this Professional and Graduate Education course at Mount Holyoke, I asked my students to use open source tools to elicit an emotional response in the viewer through interaction.

Svetlana Zwetkof demonstrates her face-following animated costume.
Svetlana Zwetkof demonstrates her face-following animated costume.

We explored the principles of interactive design using open source hardware (Arduino) and software (Processing, OpenCV). Several students assembled devices and coded instructions for them so that they could sense a person, think about the input, and act accordingly. Others chose to focus on facial recognition, and generated complex animations around a person in real time.

Interactive Design Class Photo
Mount Holyoke and Argentinian Fullbright students show off their final projects.

The experience was enhanced by the presence of five Argentinian students from the Friends of Fulbright program. Not only were they learning in a second language, but they were working with their third and fourth languages in order to program the robots and write the code. As a teacher, I was motivated to think more robustly about what I was teaching, and how. When everything goes well with a class like this, I learn as much as my student do.