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Hardware and Physical Computing


Admission requirements

Bachelor degree (completed)


This course is about connecting computers to the physical world. We regularly connect ourselves to computers, for example via keyboard, mouse, monitor, and touch screen. However, many creative computing applications require a computer to connect to the physical world via other sensors (buttons, dials, thermometers, distance sensors, pressure sensors, accelerometers, light sensors, …) and actuators (motors, steppermotors, servo’s, leds, lcd’s, electrical appliances, …). Typical application domains where computers sense and act in the physical world are robotics, interactive installations, home automation, and experimental research equipment.

This course introduces physical computing and interfacing via the Arduino open-source hardware platform. Arduino’s are inexpensive and popular micro-controller boards. Students learn to build their own Arduino board, to connect sensors and actuators, to program the Arduino, and must then apply it in a creative computing project.

See also the "This is Arduino" webpage, that is used in this course.

Course objectives

After completing the course, students

  • understand what are microprocessors, sensors and actuators;

  • have hands-on experience with soldering and building simple electronic circuits;

  • can connect basic sensing and actuating circuitry to Arduino;

  • can program Arduino for various tasks;

  • understand the basics of serial communication;

  • understand and have experienced how to approach a creative computing project involving Arduino.


Date, time and location of this course is included in the Media Technology calendar.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, labs, and project.

Assessment method

Assessment and grading is based on a final assignment: the creative computing project. Student build an interactive work and present it in class.

Reading list

Selected online materials provided in class.


  • You have to sign up for courses and exams (including retakes) in uSis.

  • Due to limited capacity, non-Media Technology students (elective, external and exchange) can only register after approval of the programme coordinator/study advisor Barbara Visscher-van Grinsven MA.

  • Students who have not yet completed their bachelor degree cannot be admitted to Media Technology courses.


Media Technology MSc programme coordinator/study advisor: Barbara Visscher-van Grinsven MA