In Light.Touch.Matters product designers and material researchers will collaborate to jointly develop a fully new generation of smart materials that combine touch sensitivity with luminosity, based on latest developments in polymeric piezo materials and flexible OLEDs. Manufactured on plastic substrates, these novel ‘light touch materials’ will be thin, flexible and formable, allowing seamless integration into products. They promise to greatly expand design freedom and unlock totally new modes of product-user interaction, enabling us to take the next step in product design: using touch sensitivity and luminosity to produce simple, affordable and intuitive user interfaces so that eventually ‘the product becomes the user interface’. Light.Touch.Matters focuses on products for care and well-being applications that can help consumers feel better, monitor or improve their health and increase comfort, such as rehabilitation aids, wearable alarms, and diet coaches, though we expect strong spin-off to other sectors. Light.Touch.Matters will use a proprietary design-driven research methodology based a comprehensive body of industrial product design knowledge that has been built up over the past decades. It consists of iterated cycles of materials-inspired and design-driven materials research with direct and prolonged design-researcher interaction, leading to a convergence of the conceptual designs and feasible materials in 4-6 interaction showcases. Analysis of results will include end user value, commercial value and environmental impact (LCA/critical materials). The design-driven research on integrated piezo plastics and OLEDs can directly contribute to innovation and competitiveness in a large number of related sectors, many of which are strategic to the EU: not only design, (health)care and consumer goods, but also the chemical, automotive and printing industries, as well as mechanical-, electrical-, packaging- and systems engineering.
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