04.04.2017 – A prototype is worth a thousand pictures


  • “Machines for Living”, Montgomery, Will. 2013, In Wire. 243. 28-35.
  • “Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers“, O’Sullivan, D. & Igoe, T. 2003, Premier Press.
  • “A Comment, a Case History and a Plan”, Pask, Gordon, 1971, In Cybernetics, Art, and Ideas. Edited Reichardt, Jasia. London: Studio Vista. 76-99.
  • “RetroFab: A Design Tool for Retrofitting Physical Interfaces using Actuators, Sensors and 3D Printing”, Ramakers, Raf, Anderson, F., Grossman, T. & Fitzmaurice, G. 2016, In Proceedings of CHI ’16.
  • “The anatomy of prototypes: Prototypes as filters, prototypes as manifestations of design ideas“, YounKyung, L., Erik, S., & Josh, T. 2008, In ACM Trans. Comput.Hum.Interact. 15(2). 1–27.

The question of the prototype – Andrin Gorgi

a prototype is worth a thousand pictures- Summary

Andrin taught us some main things about prototyping. As an example, he used Dyson, and showed a video of prototyping at the company.
Prototypes have different characteristics:

  • Filtering
    • Appearance
    • Data
    • Functionality
    • Interactivity
    • Spacial structure
  • Manifestation
    • Material
    • Resolution
    • Scope

The possibilities for creating a prototype are endless. It is possible to start with a new material from scratch, or use the method of reassembling. But the most important aspects of prototyping are: fail early & fail cheaply.


  • short and to the point
  • nice illustrations

After Andrin’s presentation, Joëlle explained the Etymology of the word prototype. Protos and typos come from the greek language and mean something like „first model“. We can use a gigantic variety of materials for our prototypes. The main focus lies in finding a material which suits your object, and is nicely formable to the shape you strive for. The material should not cost much, and be easy to access.

The prototype and its impact on designers – Daniel Holler

a presentation about STEIM & Gordon Pask- Summary

Steim is a company, which is most known for the invention of the first (*drums please*) handheld battery driven synthesized music instrument in 1968. This box creates very abstract electronic sounds, based on the moisture and pressure of the fingers, pressing the buttons. It’s called: the crackle box.

Daniel then compared this device to the Musicolor. A machine created by Gordon Pask. The machine used an input signal of a microphone to change light patterns. This output was not steered directly by the sounds recorded on the microphone. The machine was sort of able to learn from the performance. Through this delayed reaction, the musician was reinspired by the output.


  • interesting examples
  • well-spoken presentation

These projects are very experimental and could be from a research lab or a school, for example, the MIT. Many design or engineering schools deliver the ideas for companies from the Silicon valley, such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Xerox etc. The beauty of prototyping is that sometimes errors can result in an even more interesting result. A bug in a code can lead to a great inspiration.