Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


1.00 Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving, 6.005 Elements of Software Construction, or permission of instructor.

Course Description

This class focuses on the programming, use, and HCI concerns of mobile media applications. Students work in small collaborative design teams to propose, build, and document a semester-long project focused on mobile applications for cell phones. Additional assignments include creating several small mobile applications such as context-aware applications and games. Students document their work through a series of written and oral proposals, progress reports, and final reports. This course covers the basics of Android programming and explores mobile imaging and media creation, GPS location, user-centered design, usability testing, and prototyping. Java experience is recommended.

Note: Although some material will be taught in Android 2.1, students are welcome to develop for other Android or iPhone OS-based devices if they have them. Android devices will be lent to project groups during the semester if they need one.


Mobile observation study 10%
Project proposal 15%
HelloWorld application 5%
Paper prototype 10%
Poster/demo on project progress 15%
Location and networking assignments 10%
Class participation 10%
Final project 25%

Project Description

The semester-long project in this class consists of a path from ethnographic-style field work, to concept ideas, to a design, and finally to a resulting working system that creates a new experience for users on a mobile device.  Students should start by selecting a domain of interest (e.g. music playback/sharing, photo sharing, urban navigation, mobile health, fitness, education, etc.) and will conduct a rapid field study in this area to gain design inspiration.  In the analysis of this study, a concept for a final project should be chosen.  Good final projects have a larger scope and aim to create novel experiences in the world over simpler task-focused systems or mobile versions of web experiences.  Successful projects also take advantage of the unique aspects of mobile devices (context sensing, pervasive media capture, social connection, and near-always available internet).  Projects generally include a service component in addition to the mobile application.


1 Mobile Applications Overview / Generative Research Methods Share interests, begin to form project groups  
2 Qualitative Data Analysis / Android Fundamentals Affinity analysis of observation study, informal report on observations Mobile observation study due
3 Proposal Presentations   Project proposal and HelloWorld assignments due
4 Mobile Design / Paper Prototyping 3-4 screens prototyped  
5 Usability / Paper Prototype Testing Testing of paper prototypes. Discuss anticipated technological hurdles Complete paper prototype due
6 Mobile Location / Networking    
7 Poster / Demo Session Present posters and demos Poster / demo on current project state due
8 Mobile Persuasion / Urban Computing   Location and networking assignments due
9 Large Scale Research / Distribution / Instrumentation    
10 Final Project Triage Share latest progress Continue working on final project
11 Final Presentations   Continue working on final project
12 Final Presentations (cont.)   Final project due 2 days after final session