Ubiquitous Computing CSE5390 & 7390 

Course Information

MW 2:00PM-3:20PM, Junkins 0203
Office Hours:
MW 12:30-1:30PM, Caruth 451 
Optional: Ubiquitous Computing Fundamentals by John Krumm
Instructor Info:
I generally have an open door policy. If my office door is open, just drop in and we can chat about the course, research, or advice in general. My schedule tends to get hectic, so sending an email first to be sure I am around is the best way to get ahold of me outside of office hours.

This website serves as the sylabus for the course. However it can be downloaded as PDF here:
Download Syllabus as PDF

This class explores the area of ubiquitous computing (UbiComp) and allows students to work on a variety of small technology projects. Students will be exposed to the basics of building UbiComp systems, emerging new research topics, and advanced prototyping techniques. This course focuses more on class discussions and hands on demonstrations, while formal lectures will be conducted only as needed. Students are evaluated on their class participation, reading summaries, discussion leading, and mini projects. This course incorporates a combination of topics covering a wide variety of disciplines that impact ubiquitous computing. These include human-computer interaction (HCI), machine learning, embedded systems, signal processing, tangible computing, electronics, and sensors. While there is no explicit set of pre-requisite courses for this class, a basic introduction to a subset of these disciplines will benefit you in this class. Feel free to contact the instructor at eclarson@lyle.smu.edu if you have any questions.

Learning Outcomes

This course is constructed to help students design a system to meet desired needs within the constraints of a particular problem space, whether it be economic, environmental, health, privacy/security, or sustainability. Students will also hone their abilities to communicate topics effectively, and use advanced prototyping techniques that are essential in modern programming and engineering.

Additionally, by the end of this course, students should have a proficiency in recent developments and research in the following topics from a ubiquitous computing perspective:
  • Introduction and History of UbiComp
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Sensing and Basic Electronics
  • Internet of Things
  • Tangible Computing
  • Systems and Evaluation
  • Input and Output Methods
  • Wearable Computing
  • Assistive Technology
  • Mobile Health
  • Sustainability and Technology
If a topic is interesting to you but does not appear above, contact the instructor and pitch your idea. As an instructor I would like to challenge both students ideas about these topics, but also my own ideas. Therefore we will be exploring recent and emerging topics, that do not have concrete implications as of yet. The instructor may not know the answer, but we will discuss it and explore the deep, possibly unanswerable questions during discussion.


This class is intended to be highly interactive and all students will lead at least one discussion for a day's topic (7000 level students are required to lead at least two). Groups of two will be assigned a particular reading topic for that day and will be asked to present an overview of the selected papers and pose discussion questions back to the class. Prior to class, all students are required to post discussion points that he/she would like the leaders to bring up to the message board. The highlighted papers on the schedule are required papers, but optional papers are also listed for reference.

You will also be working on a longer final project (groups of two or three) that will culminate in a simple prototype at the end of the class. Students will have some guidance on the kind of project to work on, but the project will be left open for students to explore their particular UbiComp interests. More details will be given in class. The final project should be on par with the difficulty of two mini-project assignments.

There will also be smaller mini project assignments throughout the semester to practice some of the advanced prototyping techniques and tutorials that will be discussed in class.


Students will be evaluated based on their mini projects/ in-class assignments, class participation, duscussion leading, and final project. Students are expected to have the readings completed prior to class (see class schedule). Note that class discussion will largely be based on these readings. Class participation includes submitting reading summaries prior to class, active engagement in class discussion, and leading at least one topic during the semester. Also, students should inform the instructor on any conference travel or other academic activities that might arise during the semester.

Final Project: 15%*
Mini Projects: 30%* (M1: 7.5%, M2 & M3: 11.25%)
Discussion Leading: 5%
Class Participation: 25%
In-class Assignment (during tutorials): 15%
Summaries: 10%

*assignments for which a group grade is given, weighted by contribution factor. These are weighted by group members responses to how much work each member contributed.

Distance Education

A lab component is required for this course. Students taking the class remotely will need to obtain access to a 3D printer, embedded microcontroller (like an Arduino), and various hobbyist electronics parts.


Class attendance is required. Students with three absences or less, who actively participate in class, will not receive any deductions for his/her absence. Starting with the fourth absence, 2% points from the final grade will be deducted for each absence (over the initial three absences). Please note: Rarely are these measures needed!

An absence from class during a tutorial will result in no credit for the "in-class assignment" for that day. An absence from class during discussions will result in no credit for "participation" that day (this can be made up by adding to participation on other days). An absence from class during  day in which you are leading discussion will result in no credit for that leading of the discussion.


Cheating of any kind such as plagiarism or direct copying is strictly prohibited and against the SMU honor code. However, collaboration is strongly encouraged. Most lab assignments can be done as a group and turned in as a group. 

Disability Accommodations

Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first be registered with Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies (DASS) to verify the disability and to establish eligibility for accommodations. Students may call 214-768-1470 or visit http://www.smu.edu/alec/dass.asp to begin the process. Once registered, students should then schedule an appointment with the professor to make appropriate arrangements.

Religious Observance

Religiously observant students wishing to be absent on holidays that require missing class should notify their professors in writing at the beginning of the semester, and should discuss with them, in advance, acceptable ways of making up any work missed because of the absence. (See University Policy No. 1.9.)

Excused Absences for University Extracurricular Activities

Students participating in an officially sanctioned, scheduled University extracurricular activity should be given the opportunity to make up class assignments or other graded assignments missed as a result of their participation. It is the responsibility of the student to make arrangements with the instructor prior to any missed scheduled examination or other missed assignment for making up the work.    (See the University Undergraduate Catalog for details.)

Please note that this syllabus is subject to change. Any changes to the syllabus will be announced via Blackboard and displayed on the course website.