Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction

The emergence of the "ubiquitous computing" paradigm in the late 1980s introduced a series of significant challenges for research and practice in human-computer interaction, by moving the locus of interaction from the person sitting at a desk in front of a PC to the person moving through a world suffused with devices and information. This has supported an expansion of HCI's topics to include questions of spatiality, tangibility and experience. New theoretical understandings and new practical issues attend the design of ubiquitous applications, but also shed light on issues at play in traditional interaction models.

This class will survey classic and current research at the intersection of ubiquitous computing and interaction. We will begin with a mixture of lectures and discussions, with the emphasis on discussions of readings as the quarter moves along.

Grades will be based on participation in online and in-class discussion, and on a term paper due at the end of the quarter.

Weekly Discussions

Most of the quarter is structured around in-class discussions of readings (see schedule below). For each class, two students will be selected to lead the discussion. Everyone else should post a response to the readings online, due 48 hours before the class starts (in order to give the discussion leaders time to use them to prepare for the discussion.) Your participation in discussions, online and in class, will be one component of your grade for the class.

Discussion responses should be posted on the class wiki. You can login using your UCINet ID.

Term Paper

The second component of your evaluation is a term paper. Term papers are typically around 5000 words, on any topic related to the subject of the class. Abstracts/topics for term papers are due at the end of week 4; drafts or outlines of papers are due at the end of week 7 (these drafts are not graded, but are an opportunity to get early feedback.)


The readings are stored on UCI's webfiles service. To gain access, you will first need an activated UCINet ID, and then to register for a Webfiles account.

3/30 Introduction and course overview No assigned readings.

4/1 Seminal ideas: Discussion
4/8 Tangibility and Embodiment
4/15 No class
4/22 Social Computing
4/23 End of Week 4: Term paper topics due
4/29 Foundations
  • Dourish, P. 2001. Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. MIT Press. Chapter 4.
  • Dourish, P. 2001. Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. MIT Press. Chapter 5.
5/4 Infrastructure and Seams

Note change of day!

5/13 Mobility and Spatiality
5/14 End of Week 7: Term paper outlines/drafts due
5/18 Privacy

Note change of day!

5/27 Critical and cultural perspectives
6/3 Theory and Design
6/4 End of Week 10: Term papers due