CAREER: Investigating Novel Tools and Collaborative Programs for Smart Textiles Innovation at the Intersection of Engineering and Craft

PI: Laura Devendorf

Sponsor: National Science Foundation IIS 1943109

Abstract: From clothing to blankets to upholstery, we are surrounded by textiles. Smart textiles offer the potential to transform work and leisure experiences and activities. Integrating smart (conductive, sensing, actuating) and functional (environmentally responsive) materials —at the yarn-level—is expected to transform textiles into display surfaces, power generation systems, and sensor networks in a range of work contexts, including medicine. A problem is that current research uses the most basic, oldest form of stitching for integration. This research will bring craftspeople and engineers together to invent the future of tools and programs.

Novel yarn-level integration will leverage 9000 years of innovation in textile structures to discover radical new methods for coupling structure and function. By investigating collaboration as a socio-technical practice, this research will create: (1) generalizable findings about how participatory design methods can be adapted to support smart textiles innovation; (2) open-source tools that make state-of-the-art textile design workflows tools available to researchers and the public more broadly; and (3) novel programs for broadening participation in STEM through novel integration of research with university teaching, artist residencies, and multi-generational design workshops.

A smart fabric being touched, causing an LED light to turn on.


Being mindful of the massive waste streams for digital electronics and textiles, HCI researchers address sustainability and waste in smart textiles development through designing smart textile garments with reuse in mind.

Jacquard Loom


A computational design tool for smart textile weaving that blends features from traditional weaving software with circuit design tools.

Force Fabric

A Fabric that Remembers

"A Fabric that Remembers" can measure how hard it is being pressed in six different locations and includes all of the circuitry required such that you can just plug it into a controller. We also wrote a networking protocol and visualizer to computational “see” the touch in real-time.