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.

sensor-equipped structures
Engineering comonents which have been equipped with external sensors using conventional joining technologies.
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).
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).