It has been only recently that research into smart structures and materials has beenidentified as an interdisciplinary area of activity in its own right. In spite of that, work that could quiteproperly be called smart structures and materials research has been carried out for a considerable period oftime. In particular, developments in the areas of designed materials, adaptive control of structures, andartificial intelligence have been of particular importance. In this paper, the recent evolution of a numberof fields will be described and their integration/fusion into the area of smart structures and materialsdiscussed. A specific example of a smart material combined with an integrating fiber optic vibrationsensor will then be provided. Finally, the implications of the success of ongoing research efforts will beconsidered.