PhD Thesis

Cover of the PhD thesis.

Designing Embodied Smart Textile Services

The age of wearables has been a prophecy for decades, with visions such as the disappearing computer bringing technology everywhere around us. Previously rigid and hard technology is being transformed and shaped to the body, for example in wristbands, activity trackers and glasses. This raises the question as to how close-to-the-body products and services can become truly meaningful to people’s lives, and more closely connected to our bodily experiences than the current generation of wearable technology.

Technological developments in textiles and technology make it possible to augment the existing qualities of textiles with sensing capability (for example, measuring touch, stretch, movement, light, and sound) and actuation capabilities (for example, changing heat, color, light, and shape). By combining intangible properties from services (for example, the ability to measure and store data or change the functionality of a material over time), it becomes possible to tailor smart textiles to individual users.

Smart Textile Services are a type of Product-service Systems (PSS’s) where the value for the end-user is achieved by combining an interactive physical component (the smart textile) with intangible components, such as digital data or interpersonal relations. The influence of embodiment, emotions and the phenomenological significance of ways of expression on the service are aspects not widely recognized in service design because service research has always focussed on an information process approach. Both the design process and the result tend to be disembodied, because of limited awareness of the corporal, situated and social elements.

The role of prototypes for project, community and stakeholders

The main objective of this doctoral work is to bring forward a new perspective on the design of Smart Textile Services for close-to-the-body applications. The central research question that drives this exploration is: “How to design Embodied Smart Textile Services?”

Detail of the fabric of Vigour. Photo by Joe Hammond.

This thesis aims to generate knowledge about bringing technology closer to the body by investigating how Embodied Smart Textile Services have an impact on different scales. By bringing technology closer to the body, the interactions with the Embodied Smart Textile Service itself are changing and becoming more Embodied: the scale of the PSS. In order to develop these types of Embodied Interactions, the design process itself is also changing: the scale of the Project. An embodied design process also leads to changes in the collaborations between various disciplines: the scale of the Community. And finally, these new embodied collaborations have implications on the sense-making process between the stakeholders: the scale of the Stakeholders. The main way of approaching these different scales is by taking the multifaceted role of the prototype as the main point of departure.

Download the PhD thesis

  • Defense ceremony: Thursday February 18th, 2016, 16:00 at Eindhoven University of Technology.
  • Committee members: prof. dr. ir. A.C. Brombacher (Eindhoven University of Technology), prof. dr. ir. C.C.M. Hummels (Eindhoven University of Technology), dr. O. Tomico Plasencia (Eindhoven University of Technology), dr. ir. M.S. Kleinsmann (Delft University of Technology), prof. dr. K. Halskov (Aarhus University), prof. H. Ward (Imperial College London), dr. ir. S.A.G. Wensveen (Eindhoven University of Technology), J. Berzowska (Concordia University Montreal)
  • Credits: The work described in this thesis has been carried out as part of the project “Smart Textile Services” sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs under the CRISP program.
  • Thesis design: Daan Spangenberg
  • Cover photo: Joe Hammond
The main projects discussed in the thesis.