Smarter Smart Materials (SSM)

2020 | Research Projects
MISTI - MIT-Germany University of Stuttgart Seed Fund

Institute for Computational Design and Construction (Dylan Wood, Prof. Achim Menges)
HCI Engineering Group (Prof. Stefanie Muller)

Smarter Smart Material (SSM) - Integrating Human Interaction with Environmentally Responsive Material Systems

The aim of this project is to outline and develop concepts for creating Smarter Smart Material (SSM) systems that effectively and efficiently change-shape via interaction with both humans and the environment. Currently, several shape-changing material systems exist that exhibit responsive behavior based on environmental stimuli such as temperature (thermorphs) and humidity (hygromorphs). The shape change is an integrated function of the material; as it does not require electronic actuation, it can be deployed in various settings at low-cost and in small form factors. However, this behavior is directly linked to the environmental stimulus, and thus cannot be further controlled via human interaction. In many cases, this renders the valuable materially responsive systems ineffective – for example, a materially driven building skin that opens and closes in response to changes in the weather, but cannot be opened when the user would like to look out the window. From the opposite perspective, fully electronically controlled shape-changing parts are often overly complex for the simple repetitive tasks they are required to perform.

Through this interdisciplinary and international collaboration, we will develop methods to integrate human interaction and control with environmentally responsive material systems, where the user can additionally interact with and control the shape change. This will be achieved through methods adding controllable actuation compatible with the additive manufacturing of shape-changing materials and developing a human interaction pipe-line. The benefit of this approach is that it adds new functionality to the highly efficient movements of the materially responsive system.

University of Stuttgart Announcement of 2020 MIT Global Seed Funding Awards

MIT Human Computter Interaction Engineering Group


ICD Institute for Computational Design and Construction, University of Stuttgart

Prof. Achim Menges, Dylan Wood, Yasaman Tahouni, Tiffany Cheng

HCI Engineering Group, Computer Science and Artifical Inteligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Prof. Stefanie Muller, Dishita Turakhia


MIT International Science & Technology Initiatives (MISTI)

MIT-Germany – University of Stuttgart Seed Fund

Contact information


Institute for Computational Design and Construction

University of Stuttgart, Keplerstraße 11, 70174 Stuttgart

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