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Education and Innovation in Embedded Systems Design

USI Università della Svizzera italiana, USI Faculty of Informatics, Advanced Learning and Research Institute USI Università della Svizzera italiana USI Faculty of Informatics USI Advanced Learning and Research Institute

Physical Computing

Professor Langheinrich Marc
Course program MSc
Year 2
Semester Spring
Category Fundamental
Academic year 2017/2018


Physical Computing is about integrating the real world with sensing, communication, and computation. It is about rapidly prototyping devices that can react and interact directly with their environment, rather than being accessed through a keyboard and monitor. The class introduces students to the idea of using small, programmable microcomputers to build self-contained, physical systems that help automate everyday tasks. The course exposes students to basic electronics, microcontroller programming (using the “Processing” language), short-range wireless networking (e.g., Bluetooth), mobile interfaces (smartphones), and embedded sensing. The class centers on Arduino development boards that allow one to rapidly build reactive and/or interactive everyday items, without the need for attaching a Mac or PC to them.


  • Getting Started with Arduino; Massimo Banzi; 2nd Edition; O’Reilly; 2012
  • Getting Started with Processing; Casey Reas and Ben Fry; O’Reilly, 2010
  • Programming Your Home. The Pragmatic Programmers; Mike Riley; 2012
  • Hacking Electronics. Simon Monk. McGraw Hill, 2013
  • Practical Electronics For Inventors (3rd edition). Paul Scherz and Simon Monk. McGraw Hill, 2013
  • Make: Electronics; Charles Platt; O’Reilly; 2009