Developing Responsive and Interactive Environments with the ROSS Toolkit

Studio-Workshop at TEI 2016, Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Sunday, February 14, 2016


TEI researchers and designers are often discouraged from building responsive and interactive environments by the requirement of high technical knowledge. In this workshop, we present the ROSS Toolkit that offers tools to abstract/automate low-level programming of technical details, thereby simplifying the design and programming of interactions between heterogeneous networked devices. Participants will be first introduced to the toolkit functionality to cope with different technical issues. In a second part, they will experiment with the toolkit by developing use cases of increasing complexity that will involve off-the-shelf devices, interactive surfaces, and custom-made tangible artifacts. We expect participants to learn what are the opportunities and challenges for the development of responsive and interactive environments.

Audience and Background

This tutorial is intended for researchers and designers who are interested in building responsive and interactive environments. Some knowledge of HTML5 and JavaScript would be a plus. Participants are expected to bring their own laptops for design and development.

Studio-Workshop Structure

Our Studio-Workshop will go through two main phases. In the morning, participants will be introduced to the topics of the Studio-Workshop: (1) responsive and interactive environments and interaction infrastructures and (2) the ROSS Toolkit. In the afternoon, they will use the toolkit to develop use cases and, at the end, there will be a discussion to break down how can we design a toolkit to simplify the development of responsive and interactive environments by TEI researchers/designers with different backgrounds and programming expertise.

  • Hour 1 – Warm-up: We will present the topics of the Studio-Workshop. Participants will introduce themselves to the rest of the group describing their motivations, previous experience, and expectations.
  • Hour 2 – Introduction: We will discuss the topic of developing responsive and interactive environments. We will provide examples from the literature, highlight opportunities and challenges, and review the design goals for toolkits to support development of responsive and interactive environments.
  • Hour 3 – ROSS Toolkit: After the discussion, we will introduce the ROSS Toolkit, its design rationale, architecture, and features. Participants will be guided through a step-by-step explanation of the different stages of building and setting up an interactive environment with the toolkit.
  • Hour 4 and 5 – Hands-on Activity: Participants will be organized into groups and they will make use of the ROSS Toolkit to implement/adapt use cases of incremental difficulty, focusing on interactions with digital maps on surfaces: e.g., remote multi-device interaction via canvas mirroring or nearby multi-device interactions for "peephole" behaviors. They will use their personal devices and devices provided by the organizers such as mobile phones, tablets, interactive surfaces and Arduino-based custom tangibles.
  • Hour 6 – Presentation and Discussion: Participants will present to the others what they built in the hands-on activity. Benefits, drawbacks and limitations of the ROSS Toolkit will be discussed to break down
    1. What functionality are required for rapidly programming and to try out many different alternatives of multi-device interactions,
    2. What combinations of different programming approaches effectively make it easy for novices to get started but also possible for experts to work on increasingly sophisticated projects, and
    3. Can the proposed toolkit facilitate the development of a wide range of different types of projects?


Will be updated soon...

Reading Materials

  • The workshop proposal paper [PDF]
  • More coming soon...


Andrea Bellucci

Andrea Bellucci

Assistant Professor
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Aneesh P. Tarun

Aneesh P. Tarun

Research Assistant
Synaesthetic Media Laboratory (Synlab)
Ryerson University

Ahmed Sabbir Arif

Ahmed Sabbir Arif

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Synaesthetic Media Laboratory (Synlab)
Ryerson University

Ali Mazalek

Ali Mazalek

Canada Research Chair, Director
Synaesthetic Media Laboratory (Synlab)
Ryerson University

Contact Aneesh P. Tarun if you require additional information

Other Synlab Projects:


emBodied Digital Creativity

Tangible Anchoring



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