AUI (Advanced User Interfaces) course

Teacher: Prof. Franca Garzotto

Teaching Assistants: Mirko Gelsomini, Daniele Occhiuto, Fabiano Riccardi, Mattia Gianotti, Vito Matarazzo, Nicolò Messina, Davide Fisicaro



Computing devices and digitally enhanced artefacts are ubiquitously present in most human activities and are smoothly integrated in the fabric of our everyday life, making our living space “smart”. Interactive multimedia content is pervasively available in large or small displays; sensors and actuators are embedded in objects, appliances, vehicles, lights, or furniture; digital “extensions of our body” are available through wearable devices like smart watches, wristbands, or virtual/augmented reality headsets such as Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, or Microsoft Hololens. Physical artifacts and digital devices are Internet-connected, and users communicate with them using new interaction paradigms that go beyond “click” or “touch and include gestures, body movements, speech, or tangible manipulation.

This scenario opens up opportunities for new applications in many domain. Still, as the power of technology increases, we face the challenge of how to design the interaction and how interact with them in a meaningful way for meaningful tasks. This course helps students to address this challenge, and provides some methodological and technological know-how needed to master the complexity of these new technologies and to develop innovative solutions in this arena. The course also stimulates a thinking “out of the box” attitude and the attention to user needs and requirements, which are crucial to exploit the full potential of novel ICT technologies and to address its application challenges.



The teaching/learning approach is project-based (you learn by doing a project) and problem-based (your project work starts from users’ needs and requirements). Project-related activities will start since the beginning of the course and intense project tutoring will be offered in the classroom, with the weekly supervision of the teacher and teaching assistants.

Please notice that, unfortunately, for organizational reasons we will not be able to offer tutoring after the end of the semester; therefore students are strongly recommended to develop their project work during the course to benefit of the support of the teacher and the teaching assistance.

The project activities willalsobenefit fromon going collaborations that we have in national or international projects with educational/therapeutic institutions and with companies and research labs. The latter include TIM, British Telecom, Price Water House, Deloitte Digital, Google US, CHICCO Artsana, IBM Watson Labs US and MIT Media Lab. See examples of projects developed in current and past collaborations in

Testimonials from the above partners will offer (on site or remote) live seminars during the course and in some case will be involved in the students’ projects, to help students’ better understand users’ needs and requirements, and to provide feedbacks on their results.

Most projects can be extended to master thesis. For the best projects, students will be invited to write scientific papers about their work and to submit them to outstanding international conferences, or to participate to international student competitions. They will receive funding to attend these events in case their submissions are accepted. Last year, some AUI students had the opportunity to attend ACM CHI, the most important conference worldwide on Human Computer Interaction, held in Silicon Valley, and to ACM AVI, the premiere conference on visual interfaces, held in Bari



Students’ projects this year focus on the design, development and evaluation of applications in a wide range of domains: smart spaces and smart objects (including robots) for play and learning for children (including those with special needs), for the elderly, for tourism, and for fashion/retails. Technologies and devices used include smart phones, Arduino boards, smart lighting, smart watches, wearables visors, Kinect.



Course lectures will cover 3 main subject areas:

  • “Beyond the desktop” interaction paradigms: tangible interaction (physical manipulation of “smart” interconnected physical objects that are digitally enhanced with sensors and actuators, e.g. using Arduino technology); full body interaction ( enabled by Microsoft Kinect, Leap, Intel Perceptual Computing); wearable interaction (smart watches; virtual/augmented reality headsets such as Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, or Microsoft Hololens); voice interaction (using advanced cognitive computing technologies). Each paradigm is discussed from different perspectives: rationale/vision/design principles; up-to-date implementation technology and development tools
  • Development process of interactive application: TheMain tasks involved in the development of interactive applications, and the methods to perform them: requirements elicitation (Goal oriented approaches); design (scenario based approaches); prototyping (sketching approaches); evaluation (heuristics and empirical methods). Empowering the user: DIY (Do It Yourself) and End User Development approaches.
  • Experimental Research in Human Computer Interaction. User-based experimental research is crucial to understand human needs and requirements for a service-to-be, to generate new design ideas, and to evaluate an interactive artefact (either a prototype or a deployed system) in terms of quality for its intended target. Basic concepts and methods of experimental research are discussed, including: research questions; dependent/independent variables; between v.s. within-group design; qualitative vs. quantitative data; data gathering techniques (observation, surveys; interviews; focus groups; automated data collection); data analysis; reliability and validity



–        Course slides (available on Beep)
–    Scientific papers of topics related to the selected project (5-10)

–      Selected chapters of the book “Jonathan Lazar, Jinjuan Heidi Feng, Harry Hochheiser, Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction, Wiley 2009 (pdf available for enrolled students)

Online material: selected chapters of

–        Jennifer Preece et al., “Interaction Design”.

–        Roberto Polillo, Facile da usare – Una moderna introduzione all’ingegneria della usabilità – selected chapters (




Students are evaluated on their project work, which can be performed either individually or (preferred) in group (max 3 students). Each project must include an accurate technical documentation and, when applicable, a user manual. Examples of students’ projects developed in past years can be found here

The evaluation criteria include: Effort invested in the project activity; Active participation to the tutoring sessions; Originality, complexity, and richness of the solutions; Methodological and technical correctness of the solutions (including consistency with the requirements); Completeness and communication quality of the documentation