For years, the Media Interaction Lab is focusing on the development of smart (interactive) interfaces with the goal of shaping the interfaces of tomorrow. While the initial developments focused on piezoelectric film sensors, in recent years, the emphasis has shifted to textile-based solutions. The primary applications have been in the automotive sector. This is set to change with the infrastructure project at hand – in addition to the automotive industry, other application possibilities will be outlined. Alongside new surfaces, such as combinations of stone, wood, and textiles, which traditionally hold great significance for the region, other areas like wearables and clothing will also be considered.

The goal of iPlayground is to establish a lab infrastructure that allows the Media Interaction Labs team, as well as other researchers from the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano to collaboratively develop tangible prototypes for industry, all with a focus on “smart surfaces.” This project includes the procurement of industrial knitting machines, industrial sewing machines, and devices for the analysis and characterization of developed prototypes, such as a confocal microscope for three-dimensional surface analysis for quality control – just to name one of the analysis tools. Additionally, it is ensured that the research topic is viewed comprehensively – from concept design to the creation of a tangible prototype. Therefore, alongside the traditional “lab,” a flexible “Idea Space” will be designed, where new concepts are developed collaboratively with research and company partners. These concepts will then be prototypically implemented and ultimately empirically evaluated. In this way, the new iPlayground aims to advance the conception of innovative applications, bridging the existing gap between university research and product development at NOI.