Making swatches is a way to mock up ideas, develop and prototype technical content, and have small examples in real space (without the work of creating a finished item). Swatches are used as:

Language: to communication a technical idea
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“Sensor station” hands on engagement with sensors to get an idea of what might be possible with the technology. From GrowBot Garden project, Carl DiSalvo. 2010.

Reference: a starting point, discussion, idea development

Swatchbook exchange developed out of a e-textiles research project that takes place in France every year. It documents ideas practitioners are developing with soft circuitry, where swatches are a tactile language to share ideas.

Guide: an instructional tool
Human Breadboards is a concept project exploring ideas around learning e-textiles in multiple dimensions through swatches. Developed at the e-textile summer camp, 2015.