An exploration of a novel ‘light-touch’ smart material, to design for materials experience:

by I.F.C. Jönsthövel

Institution: Delft University of Technology
Year: 2015
Keywords: Light Touch Matters; Material Driven Design; Explorative Design Research
Record ID: 1242019
Full text PDF: http://resolver.tudelft.nl/uuid:92d2d92b-d728-4e89-8f7a-c60579d4dfd8


During a period of six months since September 2014 I have been working at Delft University on a graduation project involving the development of a novel ‘light-touch’ smart material named Light Touch Matters (LTM). The LTM consortium that is developing this smart material is composed of seventeen partners from eight EU countries. It is a diverse group of professionals, including material researchers, designers and design students. The aim of their collaboration is to ensure that the LTM smart material acquires the right functional and aesthetical qualities. They are confident to say that this novel light-touch material has great potential for a broad range of applications. My quest as a student in Design for Interaction involved: - Exploring the potentialities of this LTM smart material. Unfortunately the material was, and still is, not available in any tangible/visible form to experiment with - Organizing the potential of this smart material in a method that designers can easily adopt - Designing a concept that both illustrates the potential in interaction and physicality of the material. This yields the research question: ‘’ How can the LTM smart material be explored to map out all the characteristics and find the experiential potentialities for developing a design approach to embody these main potentialities in the design of an application? ‘’ The final aim is to show the LTM consortium how they will be able to find more potentialities of the LTM smart material by developing the material experience. This results in a final showcase-concept and a plan on how to improve the collaboration between researchers and designers. The thesis mainly concentrates on the phase in which the potential of the LTM material was explored. This phase has yielded various explorative tests and deliverables. The design phase and the exploration phase are intertwined, seeing that most of the explorations culminate in design decisions. The exploration of the potential has resulted in a mapping of the LTM material that includes the technical and experiential characteristics in an overview document, a video compilation and a mind map. Furthermore, by simulating the LTM smart material with a plastic sheet that had the same bending radius as the LTM smart material and the thickness of the Piezo-plastic layer and flexible Oled-layer combined I was able to explore the deformation possibilities, the form factor potential and the application of different surface layer textures and finishes. With this exploration I could define potential interactions. Organizing the potential has resulted in the development of a design approach. With the information thus far on potentialities in interaction and experiences and by combining these with the other characteristics of the LTM smart material I was able to create a guiding step-by-step method, the Design under Uncertainty (DuU) method, to be able to design with the LTM material. For phrasing a focus to design for I have decided to showcase two interactions, stroking-dimming and…