• Lancaster University
  • Institute of Coding logo

Build a Physical Computing Prototype

Explore cutting-edge developments in physical computing and get coding experience to launch your creative technology career.

1,536 enrolled on this course

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Build a Physical Computing Prototype

1,536 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Learn how physical computing is transforming tech, then build your own prototype

Physical computing involves building systems that can sense and respond to the world around them. From smart watches and virtual assistants to traffic lights and central heating, interactive systems like these are part of the fabric of our society.

On this four-week course from Lancaster University, you’ll explore how interactive devices have transformed the way we work, live, and relate to objects and one another. As you take a look inside hardware and software we now take for granted, you’ll learn how physical computer systems are revolutionising the tech industry.

Learn how to use code to collect and analyse data

Once you’ve covered the basics of physical computing, you’ll learn how to programme your own interactive system.

You’ll learn how to use coding to collect, analyse, and display real-world data in a computer system.

Complete your own physical computing challenges

In the second half of the course, you’ll begin putting knowledge into practice. You’ll complete a variety of warm-up challenges, including collecting and displaying sensor data and coding a radio, in preparation for the final challenge.

By the end of the course, you’ll have demonstrated your new expertise by building your first physical computing prototype.

What topics will you cover?

  • Physical computing
  • Hardware of physical computing
  • Software of physical computing, coding physical computing
  • Creating physical computing devices

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the components and methods for physical computing
  • Investigate how physical computing is used in industry
  • Investigate how to collect, use and process data
  • Create a program that utilises input data
  • Identify parts of a physical computing project
  • Develop several physical computing projects from design to creation
  • Evaluate physical computing in the real world and its impact

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in learning more about the fast-growing field of physical computing. It will be particularly useful for computing students or aspiring creative technologists.

You might also be interested in the other courses from UAL Creative Computing Institute, Lancaster University, and the Institute of Coding in the Essential Creative Technologies collection.

Who will you learn with?

Joe is a Professor of Computer Science at Lancaster University, where he leads courses in Software Development, Institute of Coding initiatives and is a founding partner of the Micro:bit Foundation.

Lorraine teaches undergraduates on the Minor in Creative and Applied Computing. She is an author and avid maker, creating physical computing projects to inspire people to learn more about computing

Who developed the course?

Lancaster University

Lancaster University is a collegiate university, with a global reputation as a centre for research, scholarship and teaching with an emphasis on employability.

Institute of Coding

The Institute of Coding (IoC) is a national collaboration of employers, universities, and charities, on a mission to provide people from all walks of life with access to digital learning and career opportunities.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 22 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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