Design and ICT Roadmap (Year 1): Revision

Last updated 25. July 2016 by admin


Research Direction 1: Wearable technologies and smart e-textiles seamlessly integrated into our lives.

Wearable technologies and smart e-textiles could enable individuals to transition from "hard" to "soft" technology. Technology would be integrated to everyday life and adapting itself to users rather than users having to adapt to it (keyboards, screens, etc.). It would become less intrusive and offer better custom tailored services. By combining e-textiles to smart textiles with enhanced features, the products could be more durable and resistant.

Challenges and Market issues:

  • While smart (e-)textiles have already been adopted by professionals with specific needs (for example: firemen with fireproof fabrics or the army with solar-powered uniforms), they have yet to conquer the public at large. This may be due to: their cost, these fabrics are still very expensive, and the limited “aesthetic” possibilities when working with these fabrics due to their nature (difficult to cut or sew in intricate ways);
  • Small design agencies do not have the means to develop wearable technologies because clients are not confident in requesting new technologies that have not been successfully tested yet.
  • Newest wearable products and materials are rarely sustainable and are always not compatible with new EU regulation;
  • • The risks of continuous exposure to radio and electromagnetic signals have not yet been assessed;
  • • The security and privacy of the data continuously being collected needs to be guaranteed.


  • Educating the general public on the benefits of smart textiles for certain activities (water-resistant, wind breaking, UV protective, etc.) but also for every day clothing (stain resistant, wrinkle resistant, abrasion/slash resistant, etc.);
  • Better integrating electronic devices to e-textiles through integrated circuits (ICs) , fibber optics or LEDs embedded into garments;
  • Developing power outfits (though solar panels for example) that keep technologies charged at all times;
  • Developing the health and sports markets for wearable technologies. Remote and wireless physiological monitoring is already possible and can be enhanced though the right technologies. Wearable technologies monitoring is certain vitals and indicating the quality of workouts are also in demand. By investing in both the medical and the athletic fields, wearable technologies could advance as a whole and some innovations could trickle down to other uses;
  • Crowd sourcing for smaller companies to create innovative products that customers want.

Research Direction 2: Tools for faster and cheaper conceptualizing and prototyping

One of the greatest challenges for product designers is to give a reliable idea to their clients of what the final product will look like. In a field where every detail is of great importance, clients need to have an exact representation of the product before the (costly) production process is launched. In order to satisfy their clients, designers are trying to integrate as much information as possible on the conceptualization software they use and finding affordable ways of presenting product prototypes. Technologies that could help them must integrate a higher quantity and quality input (conceptualization) and exact and affordable output (prototyping).

Challenges and Market issues:

  • Technology required is expensive and can only be made available to large company;
  • Creating a standard for software use is crucial in order for designers to collaborate with other professionals;
  • Technology required is very specific and investments made may not benefit to the public at large when subsequent technologies are developed.


  • When conceptualizing products, designers could benefit from software that could reflect the textures which could be used for the final version. Moreover, software that could accurately simulate, in 3D, the resistance and flexibility of the product under different circumstances (heat, pressure, etc.) would be of great help. Ideally, tools integrating the entire workflow (shape design, styling, surfacing and testing) like CATIA (Dassault Systèmes) should be made available;
  • The interaction through a keyboard and a screen limits the designers' creativity. Developing new ways of interaction like brain interface (electroencephalography) could be beneficial to their practice;
  • Most small and medium sizes design agencies cannot afford to purchase screens that accurately project colour and texture. Investments need to make to make these more affordable;
  • 3D printing is in high demand but developments still have to be made. In addition to more affordable high-quality 3D printing (more precision required), designers hope to print on any kind of material in order to render the exactness of the final product;
  • Graphic designers could greatly benefit from pantone-colour cartridges for big office printer brands to better reflect the final colours used for their clients' visual identities;
  • 3D projection/augmented reality could also contribute to giving the clients a better sense of the final product;

Research direction 3: Tools enabling collaboration between professionals and individuals

Designers would like to include user generated content in the creative process. In addition to being design professionals, they would like to become enablers of further innovation through the product or service they created. Furthermore, they would like their work to be adapted to each individual users.

Challenges and Market issues:

  • Intellectual property rights and creation ownership;
  • Security and privacy of personal data and fear that personal data will become a tradable good;
  • Investments made to support an adaptive product/service can be important.


  • Empowering users to contribute to the creative process by educating them on new technologies and design;
  • Encouraging products and services that require an interaction with the user and evolve accordingly;
  • Creating a better relationship between companies and their clients through better customer experience;
  • Crowd funding could help lead to a market where products and services offered cater to a real demand.

Research Direction 4: Product projections enabling a better user experience

Big companies are progressively investing in tools that enable their customers to get a better look and feel of their products before purchasing them. From virtual changing rooms to interior decorating simulators, customers can try before they buy, getting a preview of the final look through a product projection. These technologies could be used for most retail stores and could help customers save time by helping them get the right product. Designers working in fashion or interior design hope to use 3D scanning of outfits or spaces and product projections more broadly and for these to be as accurate as possible.

Challenges and Market issues:

  • Technology can be very expensive and investments need to be made for it to become more affordable;
  • Potential global market of everyday shoppers;
  • Need for a standardization of the tools used.


  • Generalizing the use of body scanners, 3D simulations, RFID mirror or augmented reality (Zugara's Webcam Social Shopper) to give a more precise idea of what the products will look like on the customer. Customers should be able to view the product in different situations (lighting, movement, etc.), compare it to others through avatars of his/herself and receive recommendation on matching items and the care required for the products;
  • Making virtual room planners and tools more available ( to visualize furniture, paint, designs, etc.). These should be as accurate as possible;
  • Encouraging customers to make their own decisions and then collaborating with designers who will advise them in the final steps;
  • Scanning products tagged through a standardized system could enable users to exchange with others, encouraging on offline experience;
  • Scanning products also enables users and maintenance professionals to know the kind of care is required for the product.

Research Direction 5: Using new Virtual Reality systems enabling the design of products

Another interesting research direction supporting creative designers is the use of virtual reality and virtual reality headsets (e.g. Oculus Rift or Google Glass) not just for rendering but also for creating objects. Some experiments have been done for using affordable virtual reality headsets in combination with tablet and pen, as well other external devices, to quickly sketch out ideas in 3D space. Further developments would allow designers to walk through 3D models to make changes as they go. The technology could be also applied to other fields such as architecture and animation.

Challenges and Market issues:

  • 3D modelling applications are already available but still have to be tested by a wider community;
  • The target users for VR are primarily game experts who are familiar with VR technologies, e.g. Oculus Rift;
  • Available technology can be very expensive and investments need to be made for it to become more affordable;
  • Potential global market of everyday shoppers;
  • Clear declarations of copyright guidelines in order of using community collaborations;
  • For designing developments, 3D printer should be an inherent part of VR technologies;
  • Open sources 3D software is not available. Creating objects with 3D software technologies should be offered as Open Source Software.


  • Allowing hands to interact naturally with the virtual world in order to create realistically products by using 3D technologies;
  •  Develop all-in-one solutions which free designers from the constraints of complicated traditional menu-based modelling programs;
  • Making VR technologies generally available for non-game / VR experts by offering a community-driven asset marketplace, where creations can be shared with technology and other design communities;
  • Developing worldwide open standards for VR assisted design which can be adopted by hardware providers;
  • Easy understanding VR software instruction guidelines for any type of design or development user;
  • All VR products should be available on the most important platforms and should be expanded through a large number of add-ons and interfaces for external transaction and business systems to give designers maximum freedom in terms of their choice of hardware, platforms and operational flexibility.



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