ICS Materials: future visions and methods to design for and with interactive, connected and smart materials.

ICS Materials is a fundamental research project at Politecnico di Milano, Design Department, aiming to explore the intersection area between Design, New Materials and Human-Computer Interaction. Funded by FARBĀ (Fondo di Ateneo per la Ricerca di Base / Fundamental Research Funding).

In the last years, new classes of advanced materials are emerging, influenced by computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and hybridization of design with science, due to an increased technological development, miniaturization, and democratization. They are changing the available domain of design materials and the materiality of the world where we live. These are ICS Materials, an acronym that stands for Interactive, Connected, and Smart Materials.

They include hybrid material systems that are: (i) able to establish a two-way exchange of information with non-human and human entities; (ii) linked to another entity or to an external source, to transfer and receive information, not only through the internet and digital network; (iii) able to respond contextually and reversibly to external stimuli, by changing their properties and qualities; (iv) programmable, not only through software.

While research centers and companies around the world are experimenting with these new materials, there is the need to reflect on their definition and classification, identify constraints, potentials, and impact on design and industry, develop a methodology to design with and for them, and envision future scenarios. The project ICS Materials is a step in this direction.