Applying the DATEMATS Method and Tools to Wearable ICS Materials: A Dialogue Between E-textiles and Active Lighting Technologies for Caring and Well-Being

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The chapter presents and discusses the theoretical background, original methodology, format, and results of the workshop “Interdisciplinary challenge on Emerging Materials and Technologies (EM&Ts)” with a focus on Interactive Connected and Smart (ICS) Materials for Wearable Technologies. ICS materials are defined as systems combining inactive materials, stimuli-responsive smart materials, and embedded sensing, computing, and actuating technologies. They can sense and communicate data from the body or the environment, and they can perform interactive behaviours. One of the application sectors where these are more exploited is wearable technologies. These materials can be embedded into clothing or worn on the body as electronic textiles (e-textiles), implants, or accessories. The challenge was used as a way to transfer new knowledge on innovative materials to design and engineering students and to establish a dialogue between students, researchers with extensive materials-focused expertise, and companies interested in EM&Ts. The workshop presented in this paper was held at Politecnico di Milano, Design School, from 12 to 16 July 2021. The methodology of the workshop follows a framework built by collecting, analysing, and systemically formalising innovative tools, methods, and approaches for designing and learning how to design with advanced materials. It identifies three phases: (1) Understanding the EM&Ts—where the fundamental knowledge is provided; (2) Exploring and Shaping the EM&Ts—where hands-on experimentation and tinkering is a way to stimulate ideas and understand the opportunities and limits of the materials and processes; (3) Applying the EM&Ts—the synthesis of the process when the material is embedded and embodied into a project. This framework defined the original structure and agenda of the whole workshop. Therefore, the workshop was based on a combination of hands-on experimentation, design activities, and lectures by the teaching staff of the four universities and by partnering companies (design pills). Students applied this unique design methodology developed within the project to design with four Emerging Materials and Technologies (EM&Ts). The method and tools developed by the staff supported students in understanding, exploring, and shaping, and applying EM&Ts, and finding design opportunities from their integration. Indeed, the main EM&Ts explored in the workshop are Interactive Connected and Smart Materials (ICS Materials), but all the other EM&Ts researched in the project were integrated: Nanomaterials, Experimental Wood-based Materials, and Advanced Growing Materials. In this interdisciplinary challenge, a real-life design brief was given to students with the cooperation of two partner companies: Comftech and SCILIF. The joint challenge with the title “Designing with ICS Materials: a dialogue between e-textiles and active lighting technologies” was about using the two patented technologies produced by the companies—a textile sensor detecting biosignals, and SunFibre active lighting system—as a platform to develop interactive, connected, and smart tangible interfaces for new application sectors focused on emotions and stress management, from well-being to entertainment, to safety. Twenty-three students worked together in six multi-disciplinary teams to find solutions for this challenge and to produce product concepts, prototypes, and material samples. The results are described and discussed in the chapter and include interactive garments for healthcare, improving safety at work, sharing emotions in leisure activities, and for the well-being of elderly people and kids. The discussion of the results and the whole methodology is informed by the feedback provided by students through a questionnaire and by teaching staff observation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaterialising the Future
EditorsVenere Ferraro, Pirjio Kääriäinen, Paz Morer-Camo, Anke Pasold
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-25207-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-25206-8
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameResearch for Development
ISSN (Print)2198-7300
ISSN (Electronic)2198-7319


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