Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Computer Engineering

First Advisor

James Hedrick

Second Advisor

Chris Fernandes

Third Advisor

Aaron Cass




user interface, appliance, tasks, data, widget


A Sophomore Research Seminar (SRS) at Union College teaches about usability science, the study of designing interfaces that allow the user to accomplish a given task with less time and frustration. In this context, an interface can be anything that allows interaction with a physical or virtual device such as a web browser or the knobs on a stove. In this SRS, students design interface mockups, called prototypes, out of inexpensive material such as cardboard. Students use these prototypes to test their interfaces on real people, who are asked to perform a task that would be performed on a real appliance. The researcher physically interacts with the prototype to simulate the function of the appliance. The purpose is to gather data, like the amount of time or attempts it takes the user to accomplish their task. The problem with this method of usability testing is that the researcher’s interaction can affect the validity of the data. The goal of my project is to develop a system that allows the students to create prototypes that do not require interaction during testing. This involves building devices called widgets: physical devices such as LEDs or switches that represent components of household appliances. I’m also developing a programming language that defines the interaction between widgets. Using both parts students will be able to design working mockups of household appliances.