The past few decades have seen significant growth in the development and application of multifunctional media for the enhancement of material properties, thermo-mechanical and sensing properties. This research work reports a novel approach in which a multifunctional material, herein referred to as SMArt composite, can be employed as a structural health monitoring system for strain sensing and damage detection (SMArt sensing and SMArt thermography), but also as an embedded ice protection tool for structural applications (referred as SMArt de-icing). Such a material, obtained by embedding shape memory alloy (SMA) wires within traditional carbon reinforced plastic composites, relies on the possibility of using the wires both to increase the mechanical properties of composites panels and to exploit their intrinsic electrothermal properties. The electrical resistance variation and the internal power resistive heating source provided by the SMA network, enable a built in and fast assessment of the strain distribution and in situ damage visualization via thermographic imaging. The efficiency of these techniques was experimentally validated on a number of SMArt composite laminates with single and multiple internal defects at various depths. The results showed that strain sensing and damage detection were achieved with high spatial resolution and accuracy, without the need to use large external heaters or complex signal processing techniques.