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How can science increase human comfort?

ComfortScience is the application of science to create materials which deliver the most comfortable experience possible. At Dow, we help bring people to achieve their ideal levels of comfort by combining our knowledge of material science with an understanding of how human beings think, feel, sense and behave. We call this ComfortScience.


Whether working, playing or resting, consumers are always looking for a more comfortable experience. Comfort is fundamental to achieving a good quality of life and a sense of wellbeing. At Dow, we work to understand how people experience comfort, and we respond to this through applied science and technology.

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The three dimensions of ComfortScience
Dow ComfortScience

Three Dimensions

We've identified three dimensions of comfort – ergonomics, microclimate and sensation. By configuring these qualities differently, we can respond to different needs and tailor solutions to deliver the most comfortable experience possible.

Each dimension is created by a number of parameters working together. By understanding what they are and how to measure them, we’re better able to deliver comfort.

Optimizing the relationship between the weight, shape and size of the body and the material to create a supportive, high-performing system.


  • Parameters – Elasticity: The ability of a material to maintain or return to its original shape after being stretched or compressed; perceived as stretchiness.
  • Parameters – Durability: The capacity of a material to withstand pressure, wear or damage; perceived as sturdiness, robustness and strength.
  • Parameters – Support: The way in which a material bears the weight and pressure applied by all or part of the body; perceived as softness or firmness.
  • Measurements – Compression Set: The degree by which a material has permanently deformed after a force that has been applied to it over a period of time is removed.
  • Measurements – Pressure Distribution: The level of pressure observed from point to point within a material; the way in which pressure is spread over an area.
  • Measurements – Hysteresis: The energy absorbed by a material when it is being deformed; high hysteresis can represent poor resilience and slower recovery.

Maintaining comfortable levels of temperature and humidity in the microclimate that exists between materials and the human body.


  • Parameters – Temperature: The thermal activity in the space between the material and the body; perceived as coolness or warmth.
  • Parameters – Humidity: The amount of water vapor in the air found within the material and around the body; perceived as levels of humidity.
  • Parameters – Freshness: The ability of material to retain its original qualities unimpaired by heat and moisture; perceived as a clean look, feel and scent.
  • Measurements – Micro-Compression: The relationship between stress and strain within a material that has been compressed by 10%; represented as slopes of varying steepness.
  • Measurements – Moisture Transport: The movement of water vapour within and around the material; the speed and direction at which it is absorbed and released.
  • Measurements – Temperature Diffusion: The rate and direction at which temperature spreads within and around the material; the time and space in which heat is retained or lost.

Understanding a material’s textural qualities and its response to light touch, in order to deliver a tangible sensation of wellbeing.


  • Parameters – Touch: The initial sensation experienced by applying the lightest pressure and movement across the surface of a material; perceived as roughness, smoothness, softness, elasticity, etc.
  • Parameters – Imprint: The feeling experienced as a material either presses against or moulds itself to the contours of the body; perceived as enveloping, moulding or malleable.
  • Parameters – Travel: The experience felt in the time between applying pressure to a material and then settling into it; perceived as sinking, weightlessness or immersion.
  • Measurements – Micro-Compression: The relationship between stress and strain within a material that has been compressed by 10%; represented as slopes of varying steepness.
  • Measurements – Recovery Time: The time in which it takes a material to return to its original shape after being stretched or compressed.
  • Measurements – Creep: The tendency of a material to move slowly or deform under the influence of stress; the speed and direction in which this occurs.

Where Material Science meets Comfort

At ComfortScience Studio, scientists, manufacturers and brand owners collaborate to create innovative new products that offer customizable comfort. Here, Dow specialists combine chemistry expertise with advanced data analysis, tests and technology to help improve comfort and facilitate deeper, more refreshing sleep.

Dow Comfort Science studio logo

Pressure Mapping
: Identify ideal mattress constructions that produce an enhanced lower pressure sleep. These tests help us to develop high performance materials that can deliver pressure point relief and less accumulated force, resulting in more restful sleep.

Deformation: Analyze spinal alignment and the role of various materials in bedding constructions, with the goal of maintaining a spinal alignment as close to neutral as possible. This aids in reducing spinal stress and discomfort during sleep.

Human Body Simulation: Utilize weighted and heat reactive simulation manikins. These manikins allow us to test how effective our cooling technologies and moisture management options perform when exposed to the heat and moisture generated by the human body without needing to engage a human test subject.

Infrared Imaging: Answer the following: How warm does the mattress get? How long does the mattress stay warm? What surface treatments are most effective at keeping people cool?

Heat & Moisture Transport: Study fundamental properties of a mattress like thermal conductivity and moisture diffusion, which allows us to develop options that can deliver a more restful sleep. These test results enable the creation of cooler, drier, and more comfortable sleep products.

Climate Adjusting Test Rooms: Simulate various seasons and geographies for the testing of bedding material performance. ComfortScience Studio NA is equipped with multiple sleep testing rooms with adjustable temperature and moisture controls, allowing us to craft optimal options for most climate conditions.

The methodology behind our science centers around the three dimensions of comfort: Ergonomics, Microclimate, and Sensation.

Ergonomics: Optimizing the relationship between the material and the weight, shape and size of the human body to create supportive, high-performing system.

Microclimate: Maintaining comfortable levels of temperature and humidity in the microclimate that exists between material and the body.

Sensation: Understanding a material's textural qualities and its response to light touch, in order to deliver a tangible sensation of well-being.

By configuring three dimensions of comfort differently, Dow can create options to help deliver a highly comfortable experience and address specific bedding needs.

ComfortScience Studio is a game-changing way to experience how co-operation, customer insight and the scientific method can engineer absolute comfort. This collaborative meeting, education and demonstration space is dedicated to exploring and developing. ComfortScience.


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