CERTESENS, an innovative tool for sensory characterization of materials

CERTESENS, an innovative tool for sensory characterization of materials at the service of researchers and companies.

The CERTESENS relies on engineering, neuroscience, humanities and social sciences.

The CERTESENS offers to companies and teacher-researchers:

1) to innovate by exploiting sensory properties of materials and developing new materials and processes to design products in line with consumer needs.

2) consulting services and research of materials by their sensory characterization.
The Sensory Material Library functions like a material chart, it collects and lists different basic materials according to their sensory properties. It already includes thousands of items, from the simple molecule to the worked material. Dedicated to engineers, designers and researchers seeking new materials, this sensory material library is enriched daily. The classification of materials allows five possible entries. The first is unique and classifies the materials by their sensory characterization according to their mechanical, physical, chemical and electrical properties. It provides a true sensory reference tool for SMEs and research laboratories.
It is orchestrated by a multi-criteria research program using fuzzy logic.
The development of this software is an ongoing project. It will be in service in 2013 and provide an innovative consultation.

3) to develop transdisciplinary upstream research to understand objectively the sensory perceptions, that is to say develop tools and methods for measuring sensory perceptions. In fact, more and more manufacturers are aware that emotions play an important role in purchasing decisions.

The 5 ways of classifying materials are:

  • a classification by sensory characterization. A work on tactile, visual, auditory, taste and olfactory fields. Sixteen sensory evaluation booths make it possible to characterize substances or materials. They are installed in a space where the temperature and moisture level can be controlled. They are convertible into 8 large booths for assessing large pieces, or work in tandem during sensory characterization training.
  • a classification by origin: synthetic, natural or artificial.
  • a classification by nature (type of material). A dozen possibilities are available to consultation, from flexible materials to different ceramics through plastics, ferrous and non ferrous metals, foams, and natural materials (leather, skin, paper, wood, stone …)
  • a classification by their application to crafts and industry
  • and finally a classification by intermediate forms (semi-finished products), that is to say all states of the same material, from the powder to the final product.

The Sensory Material Library classifies the semi-finished products in 7 main categories: grain, tube, plate, tile or 2D shape, composites and simple 3D shapes, complex 3D fabrics, simple and complex 3D sandwich panels.

Régine Charvet Pello, designer and Jean-François Bassereau director of research at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Mines in Saint-Etienne and teacher researcher at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, textile section (Paris) had the intuition that objects become more enjoyable if, at the design stage, we anticipate the feelings that will arise from their use. This combination has brought about the Center for Studies and Research on Sensory Technologies in Tours, France.


Press releases



56 avenue Marcel-Dassault
Quartier des Deux-Lions
37000 Tours – FRANCE

Chloé Domelier
Responsable du Développement
Email: chloe.domelier@univ-tours.fr
Tél.:+33 (0)2 47 36 12 30

Barbara Salmon
Technicienne Évaluation Sensorielle
Email: barbara.salmon@univ-tours.fr
Tél.: +33 (0)2 47 36 12 31

Thus, rich in its cross-entries, the Sensory Material Library provides significant advances in research on comparisons of materials and substances. A material is not only a name, a sum of abstract properties. It can be described, it can be transformed. From the molecule, passing by the powder to become a thread in some cases, and from the sheet to the board in other cases. In addition to a material’s physical characteristics and chemical properties, its appearance, its odor, its flavor, its sound or its tactile sensation perceived when in contact with a human will be evaluated, classified, stored, mapped.

A global characterization of materials: Evaluate and quantify what is not measurable

The CERTESENS creates a new language, where sensory metrology is analyzed to anticipate human responses to new product manufacturing. Unlike other control-testing laboratories, these are men and women, previously trained on different tastes, touches and smells and who, afterwards, serve as a means of analysis and evaluation, able to identify thresholds of perception.

These “panelists” are trained to verbalize, to put words on and evaluate their perceptions.

By using panels of persons recruited and trained to use their senses objectively, substances and materials are compared and evaluated according to their sensory aspects, visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory as well as to dynamic sensations that they provide when being manipulated. The method provides objective human perceptions since personal preferences and tastes do not intervene during the analysis.

From this teamwork comes a common reference tool that makes it possible to exchange on perceived sensations and respond to requests for characterization of materials and products.

The cabin corridor is a unique French sensory evaluation booth.

The 18 meter long corridor is dedicated to visual sensory evaluation, controlling the light sources, temperatures and angles of reflection in interaction with the surface or the object to evaluate.

The cabin corridor analyses the human perception of distance for two distinct purposes: measure the sensations of complex colored surfaces and evaluate the multi-scale visual attributes of an object or a material.

A research and prototyping workshop to measure and deconstruct materials to supply the Sensory Materiel Library and develop new substances and materials.