Sark Xing

0 Projects


PhD Researcher

Sark (Pangrui) Xing




Internet of things, Internet of Materiality, Dematerialization, Computational design, Material-centered interaction, Research through design, Tangible interaction, Materiality 

Research Abstract

In recent years, the HCI communities have shown a growing number of research regarding unique tangible user interfaces (TUIs) and internet of things for enriching interactions and experiences. However, few studies investigate the exploration regarding the design of Internet of things (IoT) with the support of shape-changing qualities. Wiberg has suggested Materiality of Interaction as an alternative ontology for interaction design. However, how such a theory could guide design research in designing IoT with dynamic materiality in everyday settings is under-addressed. To answer that, this PhD study aims to craft sets of shape-changing artifacts as inquiry tools to gain insights. Through reflective analysis on the research through design processes and collected empirical data, this thesis expects to gain a sophisticated understanding of how shape-changing unfolds what’s the meaning of, and more importantly to contribute how to design with, materiality of interaction for everyday internet of things.


Research Question

Designing materiality for internet of things with shape change, and how?

For empirical studies

  • How would people interact with internet of things that have shape-changing qualities?
  • How do different types of shape-changing influence the usage and/or experiences with internet of things?

For design-oriented research

  • How to design materiality that support human-human and/or human-computing interaction?


Research Methodology

Field Study: research through design (RtD)

Field study has been used among the HCI communities since 1990s and since then it has been described as in a wide range of terms, e.g., field as in design research practice (I. Koskinen et al., 2013), field trials (Brown et al., 2011), technology probes (Hutchinson et al., 2003), and culture probes (Mattelmäki, 2005). The common ground of these methods is that they intend to generate knowledge though the act of making, deploying, and evaluating proof of concepts from the real-life settings. The designed concepts from RtD processes, grounding on theoretical knowledge, are not only to unveil design implications in practice but also to yield design relevant knowledge which could compensate for and steer previous theories. To evaluate and understand how behaviors and experiences are influenced, the design concepts are usually manifested in certain forms of prototypes, following methods that have been widely adopted, e.g., User-centered Design (UCD), and deployed them to be used by the user in real-life contexts (Fallman, 2007). Yet, unlike design practice, such as, product design, their outcomes are different despite they seem generate design implementations. The latter focuses on insights to innovate commercial products, whereas RtD is aimed for answering research questions and producing generalized knowledge for the design and research practitioners (Zimmerman et al., 2007, p. 2).


Qualitative Inquiry

In addition to field study, we also aim to adopt qualitative inquiry for collecting empirical data and analysis. The objective and/or outcome of research, known as the wicked problem (Zimmerman et al., 2007, p. 1) is tricky to be quantifiably and effectively measured. As everyday activities encapsulate not only scheduled behaviors but also behaviors instigated by latent needs, goals, and motivations (Tolmie et al., 2002). Opportunities must be first unveiled before they can be investigated (Fallman, 2007), which implies research questions are usually tricky to be linearly answered by true/false; mathematical models/causal relationships. Instead, this study appreciates the richness and flexibility of qualitative inquiry can tolerate and set it as a mean to abstract and understand the equivalently vivid contextual information of the user’s lived experiences with the designed artifacts. Correspondingly, semi-structured interviews will be leveraged as the main data collecting approach and thus stand qualitative analysis method will be adopted to interpret the rich contextual content.


Expected Contributions

The expected contributions of this PhD study are twofold. First, the crafting process of the designed prototypes may involve implications that would expand understandings of design practices of materiality, and consequently enriching design cases of designing for materiality. Second, the collected empirical data from prototype deployment may provide HCI communities with insights into designing interactions and experiences with connected shape-changing artefacts.



Xing, S., & Chuang, Y. (2021). ESPBoost: A Rapid Prototyping Toolkit for Helping Designers Create the Internet of Tangible Things. In R.-H. Liang, A. Chiumento, P. Pawelczak, & M. Funk (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2021 Workshops on Computer Human Interaction in IoT Applications co-located with the International Conference on Embedded Wireless Systems and Networks (EWSN 2021) and the 13th ACM SIGCHI Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems (EICS 2021), Delft, Netherlands, February 17, 2021 and Eindhoven, Netherlands, June 8, 2021 (Vol. 2996).



M.Sc. of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology

B.Eng. of Industrial Design, Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai



Prof. Stephen J. Wang [Chief-Supervisor]

Dr. Hailiang Wang [Co-Supervisor]

Dr. Jeffrey C. F. Ho [Co-Supervisor]


Specialisation / Interests

In-situ user evaluation, Rapid prototyping, Tangible interaction, Peripheral interaction, Materiality of interaction