Saturday, September 09, 2006

BitPhys Materials

It is not a surprise that we are entering the era of blended materials. The attempts to make new materials that combine the properties of physical materials and the digital material are many and we are now seeing some of them in real products. Here is an example of such a new design. These BitPhys materials have qualities that we recognize from their physical and digital parts, but the interesting aspect is that they also have emergent qualities that creates fascinating and challenging design tasks. So, the question is how should we design with and for these new blended materials. Will these materials make it possible to design things in ways we have not anticipated. This raises also the issue of design skills and knowledge of materials. With these blended materials, these bitphys materials, who is the lead designer, and what is the needed competence? Is it the designer who has the traditional understanding and knowledge about the physical materials or is it the designer who knows and understands the digital material? We will see a lot of confusion and debate about this, both in the business world, but probably even more in the academic educational world.

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