• 12.22.09

“Pixels” That Are Soft to the Touch

A display technology that generates images by creating depressions in an elastic screen.

shade pixel

The day is rapidly advancing when there won’t be a single build surface around you without some sort of display on it. The latest invention: Shade Pixel, which has the potential to turn upholstered surfaces–such as the walls inside a building–into display screens.


The piece was created by Design Media Lab at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, which previously used crystals to create this zoetrope table. It is ingeniously simple: The face you see is made of elastic, which has been affixed within a grid of magnets, shaped like pins. Each of those magnets is surrounded by a solenoid. When electricity is sent through a solenoid, that generates an opposing magnetic field. That, in turn, pulls the magnet down–causing a depression in the elastic.

shade pixel

Thus, a shadow forms, and from that shadow, images can be rendered:

The designers consider this a new paradigm for display tech, and it’s hard to disagree: The technology could be applied in all sorts of off-beat settings, from furniture to architecture.

[Read more, and see more images, at DesignBoom]

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.