WS in Interactions: A day in the Lab

Wearable Senses, Department of Industrial Design, TU Eindhoven

As told by Oscar Tomico, Stephan Wensveen, Kristi Kuusk,
Martijn ten Bhömer, René Ahn, Marina Toeters, and Maarten Versteeg


How do you describe your lab to visitors? Wearable Senses (WS) focuses on designing close-to-the-body interactions, specifically designs that incorporate wearable computing or smart textiles. It is a community that feels like an emerging multidisciplinary culture, where practitioners from research, education, and industry help and challenge each other on a continual basis.

What is a unique feature of your lab? Wearable Senses aims to integrate research, education, and innovation. Students work in close collaboration with the WS staff and are encouraged to explore design opportunities hands on, which is visible in the open space where students, staff, and coaches work together. However, the focus on intelligent products and systems distinguishes the approach of WS from, for example, textile and fashion schools that offer courses on smart textiles. In line with our educational principles, we advocate a competency-centered and research-through-design approach. This approach can be seen as an iterative transaction between design and research in which skills, knowledge, and attitudes are generated through cycles of designing, building, and experimentally testing experiential prototypes in real-life settings. This approach is supported by the availability of the tools and materials in our TexLab. Our students and staff not only have the opportunity to work with a variety of textile techniques, such as sewing, knitting, and weaving, but also can use soldering stations to directly integrate electronics into textiles. Further, a materials library provides high-end innovative textile and electronics materials

How many people are in the lab, and what is the mix of backgrounds and roles? At WS, people from very different disciplines work closely together. Interaction and fashion designers, people familiar with the details of human physiology, psychologists, sociologists, and engineers are all required to create propositions that are accepted by end users in the market. This combination, as we learned through experience, is by no means trivial. Moreover, WS has developed a strong network of industry partners (regional, national, and international) and in this way receives support on different levels from both the textile and the electronics world. The composition of the staff reflects our relation with industry. Industry professionals have an important role in coaching students and extending the network by involving clients from industry who can propose design briefs for students. For example, Marina Toeters, who combines her work as a fashion designer with student coaching at WS, developed the design brief Worn Identity, where students have to think about the societal impact of customizable and interactive fashion and design product-service systems for these opportunities. By having industry and other stakeholders involved in setting up these design briefs, we make sure the projects have a level of societal relevance. Finally, industry collaborates with WS on the realization of projects developed by students and researchers.


Vibe-ing, Trailblazer, Sound Embracers and Unlace @ Smart Flexibility exhibition

“Smart Flexibility : Advanced Materials and Technologies” is an international overview of I+D projects about flexible and active materials
It seeks to explore the current capabilities provided by certain structures and materials to raise awareness and adapt architecture to its environment.
From this perspective the exhibition is situated on the borderline between matter and structure, investigating the flexibility and intrinsic reactivity of specific materials and advanced technologies.
In order to do so, this event should not only bring together architects, designers and construction engineers but also creators from other sectors (sports, fashion, automotive, etc.), whose projects and products are focused on smart flexibility.






Research project (for TU/e students): Implementing and testing Smart Textile Services

As part of the CRISP Smart Textile Services project, prototypes of two smart textile PSS’s (Product-Service System) have been developed together with multiple stakeholders. “Vigour” is a smart textile service that enables geriatric patients, physiotherapists and family to gain more insight in the exercises and progress of a rehabilitation process through a knitted cardigan with stretch sensors. “Tactile Dialogues” helps family members of people during the later stages of dementia to find new ways of communicating though movement and physical touch triggered by a textile pillow. Stakeholders in these projects are: fashion and textile designers (Pauline van Dongen, Borre Akkersdijk), interaction designers (TU/e), textile producers (TextielMuseum, Optima Knit), electronic engineers (Metatronics), and an elderly care organization specialized in care for people with dementia in Tilburg (De Wever).

One of the challenges of designing a PSS is to test the proposed implementation to determine whether the PSS can be taken to the next step. First, it is necessary to have all the stakeholders on board to be able to implement the PSS as realistic as possible. Secondly, it is necessary to find out what the criteria are to determine whether a PSS is successful, and finally the PSS has to be implemented to a degree that these criteria can be tested.

In this research project you will have the opportunity to test one of the proposed PSS in a longitudinal test setting and focus on the implementation part. By using the already developed stakeholder network and prototypes you will create a test plan, design the detailed parameters of the PSS using existing prototypes (i.e. product behaviour, service provider protocols), implement the test together with the stakeholders, and reflect on the test criteria together with the stakeholders.

CRISP Wearable Senses research project

CRISP Wearable Senses research project

Visit by Kristin Neidlinger @ WS

SENSOREE founder, future concepts designer — endeavors to craft phenomenal technology to enhance and expand physical embodiment. She has a background in dance, kinetic costumes, and in physical therapies as a Dance Medicine Specialist. With her MFA in Interaction Design from California College of the Arts, 2010, she became curious as to how wearable computers could be therapeutic, emotive, and enhance sensory awareness.

Kristin is honored to have her works presented by technology conferences, fashion shows, and museums . Currently, touring on exhibit with Futurotextiles 3.






From shaping matter to informing matter by Andrea Graziano

On Wednesday 18th at 15:00 Andrea Graziano shortly presented his work at Wearable Senses. Afterwards we showed him what we are working on work so we could get expert feedback, comments from him. This presentation is the start of a workshop on Grasshopper and digital fabrication.

Andrea is a computational designer, a digital explorer with a background in architecture. He is one of the founder of Co-de-iT: a network of heterogeneous clusters with main interest on the impact of computation as design medium in creative disciplines.




Research and Experimentations in PSS, Product-Services Systems by Kirsi Niinimäki (Aalto University)


Kirsi has been appointed as the first research fellow in the Design United research program. She is working in the department of Industrial Design from June 2nd to July 18th 2014. You can find her in Wearable Senses, HG0.40.

Kirsi Niinimäki in her lecture presented her studies and experimentations in PSS and servitization through questionnaires, focus group interviews, and constructive and experimental collaboration with industry.

PSS, Product-Service system offers ways to rethink the design, industry, business and even consumption. It offers ways to construct a relationship with the users, change consumer behaviour in the context of consumption, propose better product satisfaction and extended use time of the products or even more radically it offers ways to dematerialise the consumption. Further it is approach to challenge industry and business to renew their practices and to decrease uncertainty and increase the profit.

CRISP STS at Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire

We presented the CRISP electronic modules for Smart Textiles we developed together with Metatronics during the Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire.

We developed special E-textile patches to demonstrate various sensor and actuator combinations:

Conductive ink and capacitive touch connected to a LED module:

Conductive yarn and capacitive touch connected to heating module and thermochromic dyed conductive yarn:

Velostat pressure sensor connected to a motor module and vibration motor:

Felted conductive wool connected to a sound module (with small speaker:

Conductive yarn and push button connected to a motor module and DC-motor:

Special issue for Studies in Material Thinking 15

Studies in Material Thinking,
Vol. 15 (Mar 2015), ISSN 1177-6234, AUT University
Copyright © Studies in Material Thinking and the author.

Call for paper for SMT 15
Embodied Design Research

Studies in Material Thinking (SMT) is proposing a special volume of experimental contributions to the emerging debate around Embodied Design Research methods and approaches. The focus of this volume will be on the testing and reporting of robust embodied research methodologies that enable designers and developers to arrive at reliable outcomes when developing smart objects and systems. This collaboration is with the workshop team leaders for Embodying Embodied Design Research to be held at the Design Research Society’s 2014 conference on the future directions of design and design research, Umeå, Sweden, June 16-19.
A selection of submissions and workshop outcomes, as short videos, sketchbook animations, and other translatable experiments will be developed as experimental models of communication for embodied research activity. The volume will also include texts that reflect upon and discuss the challenges and opportunities of communication, and knowledge transfer through embodied research methods.
SMT is open to innovative format options. We would like to encourage contributions that explore experimental, innovative ways of communicating the value and significance of speculative and applied design thinking. In particular we would welcome film/video documentation of processes and image cycles used in a positive, active, discursive manner.

Preliminary Draft Timeline (subject to change):

• Workshop: 15 June 2014

• Invitation to submit for SMT 15: June/July 2014.
Workshop leaders will invite selected researchers to submit developed versions of their workshop presentations. Further collaborative work may be initiated for submission.

• Expected publication of Special Issue: March 2015.

Editors: Oscar Tomico, and Danielle Wilde,

SMT Editor-in-Chief: Nancy de Freitas,

Studies in Material Thinking, ISSN 1177-6234
School of Art and Design, Faculty of Design & Creative Technologies, AUT University,
Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1142, New Zealand