Smart or intelligent materials are engineered to respond to their environment…These materials are embedded with their own sensors, actuators and control systems that are responsive to presence of light, temperature, pressure or other environmental conditions, and can cause the material surface to change its shape, texture, color or temperature. When engineered at atomic or molecular scale, these materials can be made sensitive enough to human touch, just like human skin. They can even be made to heal themselves if fine cracks begin to appear inside the structure.
Now, think of the products and applications that could be created out of these intelligent materials.
You could have a dream mattress made to order, that will assume the most comfortable shape and texture as per your personal requirements. It could heat or cool based on your profile or your body temperature. By applying the right amount of gentle pressure, it could help you overcome fatigue.
Another application could be the seat of a work chair, that auto adjusts its shape, texture, height, angle and temperature, and aligns itself according to your personal profile.
A little more far fetched application could be a personl robot clothed with an artificial skin made out of smart materials, that responds to human touch. This personal robot will have the ability to imitate human gestures by controlling the shape and texture of its facial skin.
Industrial structures could benefit by monitoring the cracks inside the material, that might appear due to continued stress or fatigue. At appropriate threshold, the self healing function of the material could be triggered to fix internal cracks, and avoid any damage to the structure.
Infact, future space missions are expected to require the extensive use of smart materials, that can bend on command, self heal the cracks and withstand the extreme conditions of outer space.
Future homes could have walls coated with smart materials that will change color and texture on command or in response to ambient light and heat conditions. The reflectivity of roof top could be changed based on how much heat needs to be absorbed.
Can you imagine any other everyday applications of smart materials?
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