Signals as Material: From Knitting Sensors to Sensory Knits

Riikka Townsend, Jussi Mikkonen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The aesthetics and design are often given less attention when developing smart textile sensors and applications. On the other hand, in constructive design research, the designer is inherently getting closer to the technology. To fully utilise the expertise of a textile designer and to bridge this gap between engineering and design, an understanding of both the smart material and its implications is needed. Thus, there is a need to augment the methods available for a textile designer to develop smart textiles. To this end, we created a set of knitted sensory samples, providing a basic set of structures for the evaluation of the signals towards a visual method for evaluating their qualities. From an engineer point of view, the samples focus on conductivity, capacitive coupling and impedance changes, and from a designer point of view, vary in the type of electroconductive material, knit patterns and the visual differences. The samples were evaluated using Lissajous-figures, which provide an unambiguous representation of the frequency-related behaviour, being relatively straightforward to utilise. The measured differences were often clear, with structure- and fibre-based differences being made visible through the use of variable frequency. Our approach focuses on the strengths of both designers and engineers, by providing a visual method satisfying both experiential and technological requirements, as well as giving a tool for communicating about the behaviour of the smart textiles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAlive. Active. Adaptive.
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Conference on Experiential Knowledge and Emerging Materials
EditorsElvin Karana, Elisa Giaccardi, Nithikul Nimkulrat, Kristina Niedderer, Serena Camere
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9788790775902
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational Conference of the Design Research Society Special Interest Group on Experiential Knowledge: Alive. Active. Adaptive. - Delft University of Technology, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 19 Jun 201720 Jun 2017


ConferenceInternational Conference of the Design Research Society Special Interest Group on Experiential Knowledge
Abbreviated titleEKSIG
Internet address


  • Knitting
  • Smart Textiles
  • Method
  • Lissajous figure
  • Constructive Design Research


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