Module 5a: 201500171 Smart Technology

(for an overview of the entire first year see the Year 2 overview page)

This fifth module in the Creative Technology program has a stronger technical focus than most of the previous modules. This module (and the New Media counterpart) provide -technical- tooling for the creative technology realm.

The information age brought us many new, smart devices which show an unprecedented level of

interconnectedness and ‘intelligence’. These smart products and smart environments use sensors for

gathering information, (embedded) computation for processing information, telecommunication systems (typically using the internet) for exchange of information and control technology to make things happen. These three topics (sensors, telecom, control) are the central technical topics in the module.

These courses are supported by the topics ‘Circuits and Electronics’ - the necessary background from Electrical Engineering - and ‘Systems and Signals’ - the necessary mathematics. The sixth course is a literature research project aimed at broadening (and perhaps deepening) your understanding of the matter while moving away from the practical, technical side and focusing more on (academic) writing skills and desktop-research.

Thematic components in Module 5a

Circuits and Electronics

Electronic components and the functions engineered with them are fundamental in every smart product. This block trains basic understanding of electronic components (resistor, capacitor, inductor, transistor, IC etc) and their applications in electronic networks, filters, amplifiers, converters, etc. Moreover, basics in signal analysis in the time and frequency domain and in the analog and digital domain are treated here.


To make products smart or ‘aware’, they need to get input from users or their environment, typically using sensors. Various sensing domains (locative, environmental, bio) are explained and various sensing principles (resistive, capacitive, magnetic, optical, ultrasonic) are treated. All necessary steps in a given sensing system (sensing, conditioning, conversion, interpreting) are explained and necessary tools (periodic/aperiodic signals, ADC design, (instrumentation) amplifiers, conditioning circuits) are deployed, aimed at embedded system design.

Introduction to Telecommunication

Every product needs to communicate. The focus here is on the interaction between technical subsystems (e.g. ,a phone that connects to a satellite for sending and receiving the speech information or text). In most cases, signals cannot be transmitted straight forward but need a modulation in order to be transmitted over certain media. This requires knowledge on signal analysis and on signal modulation and demodulation techniques. Moreover, understanding of influence of media properties (e.g., coax, glass fiber, air etc.) on signal transport and how to influence them are fundamental in every smart product and are treated here.

Control Systems

Most smart products need to do something in our world. Think of products like a 3D printer, balancing scooter (segway) or a quadcopter (drone). They need to deploy actuators and be able to control them, either autonomously or with intervention of the user. Control Systems deals with both aspects of control: describing and modelling dynamic behaviour, and designing and realizing control methods. Classical feedback control (PID, root locus design) is treated in depth. Finally, a swift acquaintance is made with more complex control strategies (Fuzzy, Neural networks, MiMO).

Systems and Signals (Math)

The main goal of the course is to introduce the student to some concepts from the mathematical theory of signals and systems, which are relevant in the understanding of modern smart technologies and are needed in other courses such as control systems and telecommunications.

The Research Project

The individual project is about (re)search towards the student’s own fascination within the context of Smart Technology. The Smart Technology context should be framed into a Human Interface Device, i.e. the user should also play a central role in the topic of the student’s fascination. A research question based on this fascination should be formulated. The project is about going in depth in this research question using literature study. A literature study is useful to know what has been done and investigated so far regarding the research question so the wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented. Finally, the student can report his findings both in a written report and via a poster presentation.

Tutoring/ portfolio

Creative Technology emphasizes that students should take their own responsibility for setting and reaching the ambitions for their future. Creative Technology students are self-directing learners. They collect their progress in a portfolio. The portfolio is a proof of long term development as a “Creative Technologist.” The Portfolio Course is partly integrated in the project. Via the portfolio topic the student can reflect both on the things learned during the literature research project and during the courses and become conscious of the role and usefulness of Smart Technology related tools in the context of his Creative Technology study and his potential later profession.

During the group meeting they will be trained to design a scientific poster. At the end of the module they update their professional portfolio with their products (report and poster), their reflections and their ambitions for the coming years as a Creative Technologist researcher.