Embracing Tangible Interaction Design: The New Trend of Industrial Design Education in Japan

Mr. Stephen Jia Wang, with Mr. Toshiro Tamada, Mr. Arthur De Bono, Mr. Zhen Sheng Liu & Mr. Shi Zhong Wu
2012 Conference

The movement of global industry over the past 10 years suggests that there is a growing need for industrial design educators to enable graduates with a more applicable and comprehensive skill-set for designing interactive (smart) systems, products and services.

This study takes a recent development in Japanese industrial design education as an example. The authors hypothesize that the coming need of global industry urges a new breed of expertise. Students must be competent for the design tasks, which simultaneously focus on both ‘physical property’ and ‘interactivity’. Working with such a hypothesis, the challenge in the design education sector is which pedagogical approach should been taken to better equip graduates with a stronger sense of the technology and a better handling aptitude of ‘interactivity’.

To confront this challenge, a transnational collaborative educational development platform across Australia, China and Japan was formed in 2009. This paper introduces the experiences gleaned from the recent pedagogical foresight and related teaching exploration at Tokyo Zokei University in Japan. As an intrinsic part of this pedagogical model, the method of Tangible Interaction Design (TID) provides potentialities, which blur the boundaries of tangible objects and intangible services.

As the result of this study, a set of physical-aspect accommodated interaction design units have been weaved into this TID curriculum, such as related cognitive and social systems, contextual design methodology, and human experience conformed physical computing technologies.

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About the author

Stephen Jia Wang (DocFA MA MA BA) currently is working as a Senior Lecturer and Interaction Design Program Leader in the Department of Design, Faculty of Art Design and Architecture, Monash University. He has an integrated background across the fields of industrial design, interaction design, computer engineering and architectural design. His design practice focuses on interactive installations, interactive controlling systems and informational products. Before this position, he had been working as Specially-appointed Professor at Tokyo Zokei University (Japan), Senior Lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), and lecturer at Monash University.

Stephen has undertaken research in the field of Interaction Design for more than a decade. In recent years, his research and practice have focused on exploring new design methods, technological possibilities and related curriculum development in the field of Tangible Interaction Design. He is also an experienced interaction & industrial designer. In the past ten years he has been involved in several major research projects and has published and exhibited across Australia, China and Japan.