University of Technology Sydney

84811 Smart Design

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2021 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 12 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 84712 Product Engineering OR 84711 User-centred Design


As the world is experiencing many profound and rapid technological and social changes, students must be properly prepared to operate in this new environment. Students need to develop next generation products, systems, and environments which are a result of 'smart' thinking and are in themselves 'smart/innovative'. Drawing upon and developing the practical skill sets and design thinking experiences established in the first two years of the curriculum, this subject makes an in-depth examination of how things work and should work to benefit larger sociocultural contexts. It provides students with an understanding of the technology that makes products work and enables humans to interact and control products, systems and environments.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Identify opportunities within socio-cultural and technological contexts through design thinking.
2. Apply design methods and translate them into a Product Design outcome.
3. Demonstrate a rudimentary understanding of electronics and microprocessor programming in relation to Product Design.
4. Understand appropriate integration of micro-controller and sensor technologies in the development of functional experience prototypes.
5. Develop design proposals iteratively through exploratory and experimental design development methods relevant to Product Design.
6. Manage complex design projects through commitment to studio and design iteration.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrated engagement with ideas and learning (A.1)
  • Effective tangible 3D representation (C.3)
  • Demonstrated ability for problem setting and problem solving (I.1)
  • Demonstration of versatility, curiosity and imagination (I.2)
  • Ability to propose, develop and rethink ideas (I.4)
  • Industry specific practical and digital skills (P.1)
  • Ability to self-manage, including task initiation, allocation of time and realisation of outcomes (P.3)
  • Identify and execute research methods appropriate to the project (R.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject includes active and collaborative learning experiences where ongoing feedback is provided weekly in all on-campus engagements. It is therefore imperative that students prepare for and attend all on campus engagements according to the Program.

The subject combines a lecture (1hr), design studio (3hrs) and build workshop (3hrs) per week. Lectures provide information around the effects changing technology has on human behaviour and how technology can find meaningful integration into everyday life. Students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge gained from the lectures and build workshops by applying that knowledge in the context of product design challenges worked through in the design studio sessions.

This subject uses an enquiry-based learning strategy that involves students researching and developing their own solutions to complex design challenges. The subject uses design professionals as studio leaders to ensure that all content and tasks are relevant to current professional practice in a global context.

Learning resources will be provided in forms such as videos, book chapters and academic papers. Prior to each design studio students will be required to review the learning material and reflect on how the material will be applied to their project, and discuss it with their studio leaders each week. The knowledge provided is information relevant to topics such as research methods, the prototyping of human-product interaction and product experience. Where to find or how to access resource materials is listed in the Program. In studio students will work collaboratively with their peers and studio leaders on their design projects. At the beginning of each studio the studio leader and the group will discuss the challenges they are facing with their projects in connection to the weekly studio topic. The studio leaders will be reviewing the work weekly and will provide feedback verbally. It is the student's responsibility to record any feedback provided both in studio and after presentations. Students will be expected to actively participate in collaborative peer review feedback exercises. Students will also be supported by the level 2, Faculty Workshop in the construction of models and experience prototypes.

Grades, marks and feedback on final design submissions will be provided through Re.View.

Content (topics)

  • Design thinking
  • Design research methods
  • Iterative design development
  • Working with micro-controllers and sensors
  • Programming micro-controllers
  • Iterative prototyping
  • Experience prototyping
  • Free-hand sketching and drawing
  • Computer aided design and rendering


Assessment task 1: Research to Concept


Presentation of your research findings and how they led to your concept.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1 and 2

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

I.4 and R.1

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 25%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Ability to use a variety of research methods. 50 2 R.1
Degree of clarity to which your sketch model communicates your design intent. 50 1 I.4
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Concept development


Presentation of the redesign of your product, primarily focusing on interaction.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 3 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

A.1, I.2 and P.1

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 35%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Development of innovative functionality. 33 1 I.2
Demonstrate electronic functionality. 33 3 P.1
Iterative design development. 34 5 A.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Experience Prototype


Presentation of your final Experience Prototype.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 4 and 6

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.3, I.1 and P.3

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Degree to which your project creates positive new meanings and experiences, evident in your presentation and experience prototype. 33 1 C.3
Appropriate integration of micro controller and sensor technology. 33 4 I.1
Ability to produce finished and functional Experience Prototype. 34 6 P.3
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Recommended texts

Banzi, M., Shiloh, M., 2015, Make: Getting started with Arduino, 3rd Ed., Maker Media Inc., Sebastopol CA.


Texts for design inspiration

Antonelli, P. 2011, Talk to me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects, The Museum of Modern Art.

Chochinov, A., Ludlum, E. 2014, Designing Here/Now: A Global Selection of Objects, Concepts and Spaces for the Future, Thames & Hudson.

Dunne, A. & Raby, F. 2013, Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming, MIT Press.

Dunne, A. & Raby, F. 2001, Design noir: The secret life of electronic objects, Springer Science & Business Media.

Edmonds, E. & Candy, L. 2011, Interacting: art, research and the creative practitioner, Libri.

Freyer, C., Noel, S. & Rucki, E. 2008, Digital by design: crafting technology for products and environments, Thames & Hudson.

Fukasawa, N. & Morrison, J. 2007, Naoto Fukasawa, Phaidon.

Lukic, B. & Katz, B.M. 2010, Nonobject, MIT Press.

Maeda, J. 2004, Creative code, Thames & Hudson London.

Mori, K. 2011, Blinking and flapping - Yasuhiro Suzuki, Seigesha, Japan.

Pullin, G. 2009, Design meets disability, MIT press.

Wilkinson, K. & Petrich, M. 2013, The Art of Tinkering: Meet 150+ Makers Working at the Intersection of Art, Science & Technology, Weldon Owen.

Texts to help with design research and design development

Buxton, W. 2007, Sketching user experiences : getting the design right and the right design, Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco, Calif.

Martin, B., Hanington, B. & Hanington, B.M. 2012, Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions, Rockport Pub.

Milton, A. & Rodgers, P. 2013, Research methods for product design, Laurence king publishing.

Norman, D.A. 2004, Emotional design : why we love (or hate) everyday things, Basic Books, New York.

Norman, D.A. 2009, The design of future things, Basic books.

Kumar, V. 2012, 101 design methods: A structured approach for driving innovation in your organization, John Wiley & Sons.

Sharp, H., Rogers, Y. & Preece, J. 2011, Interaction design : beyond human-computer interaction, 3rd Ed., Wiley, Hoboken, NJ.

Texts to help with Technology

Anderson, R. & Cervo, D. 2013, Pro Arduino, Springer.
(This book is quite advanced but good for people who want to how to use Zigbee to create a wireless local area network.(Electronic version available from the UTS Library.)

Blum, J. 2013, Exploring Arduino: Tools and Techniques for Engineering Wizardry, John Wiley & Sons.

Canumalla, S. & Viswanadham, P. 2010, Portable Consumer Electronics: Packaging, Materials, and Reliability, PennWell Books.

Evans, B. 2011, Beginning Arduino Programming, Apress.,
(This book covers most of the things that the Sparkfun Sandbox does with Ardublocks, but in more depth. It's also more code oriented, and is a good resource for anyone wanting to use microcontrollers. Electronic version available from the UTS Library.)

Horowitz, P., Hill, W. & Hayes, T.C. 1989, The art of electronics, vol. 2, Cambridge university press Cambridge.

Karvinen, T. & Karvinen, K. 2011, Make: Arduino Bots and Gadgets Six Embedded Projects with Open Source Hardware and Software (Learning by Discovery), Make Books-Imprint of: O'Reilly Media.

Margolis, M. 2011, Arduino cookbook, O'Reilly Media, Inc.

McLellan, T. 2013, Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Living, Thames & Hudson.

Noble, J. 2009, Programming Interactivity: A Designer's Guide to Processing, Arduino, and Openframeworks, O'Reilly Media, Inc.
(Electronic version available from the UTS Library)

Olsson, T. 2012, Arduino Wearables, Springer.
(A good book covering various types of sensors and wearable materials, what tools you'll need, looking at electronic limitations and selecting sensors/power systems, and it even has a list of companies to buy parts from. Electronic version available from the UTS Library.)

Platt, C., 2009, Make: Electronics, O’Reilly.

Reas, C. & Fry, B. 2007, Processing: a programming handbook for visual designers and artists, vol. 6812, Mit Press.

Wilcher, D. 2012, Learn electronics with Arduino, Apress.
(This book is more electronics oriented with Arduino applied, so more technical and good for people wanting to take their projects further. Electronic version available from the UTS Library.)