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With overwhelming new ideas and technologies, designing objects is experiencing a fundamental transformation. They long for simplicity on the surface while becoming more complex below the surface like an iceberg. Immaterials such as behaviours, code, data are beginning to drive the quality of a good product experience. This poses a new set of challenges for designers’ mindsets, skills as well as the tools we use.

This thesis investigates existing technical tools for prototyping interactions, and intends to contribute new design tools to empower designers.

Inspiration and Method

The research of this project started off with the literature review on the topics of interaction design tools including previous research and reviews of existing tools. Several major social and technological paradigms have been studied with the intention of their influences in disrupting design contexts and design tools.

A number of people from the education and the industry have been interviewed on their experiences and expectations of tools. Meanwhile a three-week long course observation has been conducted to gain a comprehensive understanding of design tools in the context of use.

Three key opportunity areas have been identified and explored: learnable programming, cross boundaries, and exploration provoking. A minimum viable product (MVP) of the final concept has been developed and evaluated by targeted users.


The result is Glue, a flow-based visual programming environment that makes sketching in hardware easier for designers. Glue offers an alternative way to create program by manipulating logics graphically. With visible flows and real-time feedback, beginners can learn, understand and create program intuitively. The smartphone integration allows beginners to set up flexible architectures and mimic connected experience easily. Glue also provides powerful ways to explore invisible behaviours across time and possibilities.

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