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Adv. Mater. DOI:10.1002/adma.201905111 (2019)
Soft matter systems and materials are moving toward adaptive and interactive behavior, which holds outstanding promise to make the next generation of intelligent soft materials systems inspired from the dynamics and behavior of living systems. But what is an adaptive material? What is an interactive material? How should classical responsiveness or smart materials be delineated? At present, the literature lacks a comprehensive discussion on these topics, which is however of profound importance in order to identify landmark advances, keep a correct and noninflating terminology, and most importantly educate young scientists going into this direction. By comparing different levels of complex behavior in biological systems, this Viewpoint strives to give some definition of the various different materials systems characteristics. In particular, the importance of thinking in the direction of training and learning materials, and metabolic or behavioral materials is highlighted, as well as communication and information‐processing systems. This Viewpoint aims to also serve as a switchboard to further connect the important fields of systems chemistry, synthetic biology, supramolecular chemistry and nano‐ and microfabrication/3D printing with advanced soft materials research. A convergence of these disciplines will be at the heart of empowering future adaptive and interactive materials systems with increasingly complex and emergent life‐like behavior.