Surface Invasion: How Technology Will Pervade Interiors

Now that technology can be embedded into virtually anything—walls, floors, ceilings, even carpets— we’re just starting to sort out the implications.

OPENARCH: The prototype smart home seems sci-fi, but it’s rooted in current technology. Ion Cuervas-Mons created it by linking five projectors, two computers, and two motion-sensing Microsoft Kinects.


Given how ubiquitous technology has become in our everyday lives, what’s remarkable now is not how many “smart” objects surround us, but how few. Sure, your phone can run an array of Internet applications—but what about your carpet or your wallpaper? A slew of new research projects is exploring exactly this potential, proposing interior surfaces embedded with a variety of clever and useful functions.Perhaps the most dramatic of these proposals is Openarch, a prototype smart home created by the Spanish designer Ion Cuervas-Mons. A video shows how it would work: A woman wakes up in the morning to an alarmclock image projected on the wall beside her bed; she waves her hand to silence the alarm, and glances at an adjacent projection showing the weather, her calendar, and the number of new emails in her inbox. Going about her day, the Openarch dweller is able to use simple hand gestures to activate wall displays throughout the house. With them, she surfs the web, monitors her home electricity usage, and takes Skype calls featuring a life-size projection of the caller on her living-room wall.

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