Philips developing LED-embedded carpets to replace public signs
Philips recently partnered with Desso, a high-quality carpeting producer, to create a new type of light transmissive carpet embedded with LEDs that can be programmed to display important messages, directions, or other information
After developing some innovative ways to add LEDs to wallpaper, and even the backside of televisions, it looks like Philips is setting its sights on lighting the floor beneath our feet as well. The company recently partnered with Desso, a high-quality carpeting producer, to create a new type of carpet embedded with LEDs that can turn any floor space into a customizable lighting array.
The project is still in its infancy, so neither company has revealed many details on how the final product will actually work, or even an official name for it yet. All they've mentioned so far is that it will involve a layer of LEDs beneath a special light transmissive carpet, giving it the appearance of an ordinary carpet until it's lit. With each LED shining through distinctly, the carpet could be programmed to display important messages, directions, or other information, much like an electronic billboard.
The goal is to replace the usual signs and notices in some high-traffic indoor areas, such as airports and offices, with this light-up carpeting. Besides freeing up some wall space, the two companies believe the proposed lighting system could catch people's attention more readily, since many people tend to look down when walking. When it's not displaying a message though, the light transmissive carpet could also glow softly to give the room a distinctive tone or ambiance.
Once it launches, the carpet will be available in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes to suit almost any space. The two companies have already presented a few examples of specific places where their idea could be implemented, such as replacing the "Do Not Disturb" signs in hotels. Probably the most useful idea they've mentioned however is to have the carpet display guide lights in an emergency and direct people on a safe route towards the exits, much like on an airplane. Both companies hope their invention will also give interior decorators a new tool to work with when designing a room.
Philips and Desso are already looking for buildings in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to begin installing their LED carpet, though the actual product name won't be revealed until it officially launches sometime in 2014.
About the Author
Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.
All articles by Jonathan Fincher
Functionality of this will go way down when the hallway is busy enough.though. I can't understand why they think it would work in an airport during a busy time. Too many people to see the ground. Plus you'd have people stopping in the middle of the hallway to try to see the whole message.
I think that is really cool.
I think the more people one has in the area, the harder it will be to read the signs on the floor. I think it would be great in addition to the signs on the wall (or in the wallpaper as indicated in a previous application).
I can see it being used in emergencies, like a fire. While the smoke would make it hard to see signs on the wall, having it on the floor would be easier to see how to exit the building, especially if people are on their hands and knees trying to get lower than the smoke.
Really bad idea for airports and other high traffic areas but good idea for less crowded places like the other examples shown: hotels, office buildings, conventions, homes, airplanes, automobiles, astroturf, etc.
Could be good in cinemas allowing people to go to toilet or by popcorn and so on safely without detracting from film. If used interactively with films or games could add to the feel of the experience. Just hope it unearthed well in case of spills.
As many will point out, the high-traffic areas they are targeting will lose the reader - just like lane signs already painted on roads, as soon as traffic increases, you cannot read the signs! Perfect the wallpaper idea, a wall with moving arrows would be good.
Most people don't look down, hence security banners on changes of level on flooring, ramps etc. However with the popularity of gazing down while walking along scrolling through your phone or e-device, this may actually work with the peripheral vision.
Could you include an audio for the visually impaired?
Maybe run the system through static charge?
Would definitely need frequent cleaning otherwise dirt would obliterate the effect.
Yeah great but how about reliability? And maintainability?
You only have to look at how long it takes before road traffic signs start losing individual pixels, or whole blocks, to know that this is going to be problematic at best. It won't help to say "oh but these will be really well built" because (a) outdoor display signs are already really well built and damn expensive, and (b) this concept is going to be subject to thousands - probably hundreds of thousands - of times more wear and tear than a billboard.
Plus have you seen how things get messed up in public places even where they aren't subject to wear and tear? It's like people deliberately set out to vandalise up everything in sight, plus of course cleaners ('janitors') couldn't care less how badly they damage anything. That vacuum cleaner that has been bashed into walls enough to crack the sweeper head? Yes, it now has a snaggy edge that catches on carpet threads...
A heads up approach might be better. How about working on a system that can project information to a user using his own GPS location data, his needs as entered in an app, and a floating-in-air semi-transparent display so that he can see general info as well as the specific info just meant for him?
It could be made up out of things we already have developed.
In an airport scenario, once he's checked in at the gate via his cell phone stored gate pass, the rest could be automated. The system would already know his situation, where he's supposed to go, and exactly what kind of information would be useful.
In a busy Airport with people all over the carpet looking at the floor?! Yeah that bumping into each other and getting in the way? sounds terrible.
On the plus side, this could be awesome for a 360 degree gaming setup.. Imagine you've got you 3D screen covering the walls, then a carpet like this could form the ground textures of the game. Also make it a tactile surface that actually lets you feel bumps and textures under your feet.. yeah a million dollar games room! :)
This would make a great item for a child's room. You could have a hopscotch game light up on it, or a map, or a racetrack, checkers, ... possibilities are endless. Maybe just a line across the room on the carpet for a shared space... "That's YOUR side, this is mine."
Over 160,000 people receive our email newsletter
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning