From bridge to airplane and in future to the automotive world we witness a technological development characterized by continuous miniaturisation of central components and a similar increase in the sheer number of sensors. If we extrapolate this process, we end up with the notion of a sensorial material, in which application-related properties and sensing capabilities are integrated: The sensorial function would become an inherent quality of a material rather than a component, and the former could be applied as smart precursor/semi-finished product to be further processed into a product. The path towards this aim may be covered in stages. These are summarised in the following table.

Class
Designation
Description
1
sensor-equipped structures
Engineering comonents which have been equipped with external sensors using conventional joining technologies.
2
structures with integrated sensors
Materials and manufacturing processes are adapted to allow integration of seperately produced sensors. The result is a compound material (macroscopic hybrids).
3
sensorial materials
Materials which
• suffer an internal property change due to the action of the parameter/variable of interest which facilitates detection and analysis of its influence, the latter requiring separate ex- or internal senors.

• which can by themselves take over the intended application oriented and sensorial functions, including some level of signal evaluation (composite or hybrid materials on a microscopic level).