ICS 203B: Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction

Spring 2004

Tu Th, 3:30-5:00, ICS 253


Weiser described ubiquitous computing as the "third age" of computing. The first age, the age of mainframes, used one computer to serve the needs of many people, while minimizing interaction requirements by separating the computer from the people as much as possible. The second age, the age of personal computing, gives each user a computer of their own, with which they interaction through standard mechanisms such as mice, keyboards, and displays. In the third age, the age of ubiquitous computing, one user is served by tens, hundreds, or even thousands of small computational devices, carried, worn, or embedded into the world around us

Ubicomp, then, poses a new set of challenges for interaction and interaction design. HCI design practice has typically focused on cognitive processes, individual users, and limited channels for interaction; in ubicomp, the world is the interface, and so we need to understand not just how people cognitively experience interactive graphical interfaces, but how the experience and interact with the world around them.

In this class, we'll focus on the challenges of interaction with computation embedded in the world, some of the opportunities and solutions that have been explored, and some conceptual frameworks that we can use to understand them. This will involve looking at various topics in how people interaction with, in, and through the everyday world, from different perspectives:


The primary evaluation for this class will be a term paper of 3000-4000 words, due at the end of the quarter. I'll distribute some sample paper topics early in the quarter, but you can also suggest topics of your own. We'll agree about actual paper topics around week five.


Much of our reading will be taken from "Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction" by some guy called Dourish. Copies at all good bookstores and quite a few bad ones. I will supplement this with other readings as we go along.

Tuesday 4/13

The World as an Interface

Thursday 4/15

Everyday Settings as Practical Accomplishments.

Tuesday 4/20

Tangible Interfaces I.

Thursday 4/22

Tangible Interfaces II.

Tuesday 4/27

No meeting


Thursday 4/29

No meeting

Tuesday 5/4

Term paper discussion


Thursday 5/6

Sha Xin Wei presentation

Tuesday 5/11

Infrastructures and Design Tools.

Thursday 5/13

Social Computing.

  • Dourish, chapter 3

Tuesday 5/18

Philosophical Foundations I.

  • Dourish, chapter 4

Thursday 5/20

Philosophical Foundations II.

Tuesday 5/23

No meeting


Thursday 5/25

No meeting

Tuesday 6/1

Implications for Design.

  • Dourish, chapters 5-6

Thursday 6/3

Case Studies for Analysis I.

Tuesday 6/8

Case Studies for Analysis II.