For Tom Barker, newly appointed head of industrial design engineering at the Royal College of Art in London, SmartSlab’s creation has become a long-standing endeavor. The idea originated in 1999 when he and Zaha Hadid experimented with a slab of aluminum honeycomb lined with Christmas lights. Scanning the results, Barker says, “we found that light flooded into the cells, creating hexagonal pixels.” Six years later, he has joined forces with architectural lighting distributor Targetti and LED manufacturer Cotco to offer a product that merges ultrabright LED technology with proprietary software. Users can stream graphics, film, and live video from a Web site—no convoluted HTML required. The hexagonal pixels produce a finer resolution than square ones, and image definition improves as the number of tiles used increases. Moreover, SmartSlab is the most robust display panel on the market: its honeycomb structure adds rigidity, and its bulletproof double-polycarbonate skin—a technology taken from the aerospace industry—is the strongest transparent plastic available.
SmartSlab’s high-tech features extend beyond mere utility and sturdiness. Its software offers one-on-one interaction with passersby, converting street-level signage into the stuff of science fiction. For example, a traveler in an airport could point to a cluster of pixels or use a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled cell phone to tell the panel to stream live footage of their destination city. And in the not-so-distant future a SmartSlab billboard might be able to detect a bystander’s identity using a GPS signal in order to broadcast targeted ads.
A polycarbonate-sheathed, honeycomb-like aluminum panel comprises hundreds of hexagonal pixels, each capable of emitting 16 million colors using high-intensity LEDs.
Ambient lighting or high-definition graphics and videos; for use on floors, walls, ceilings, building facades, sidewalks, and billboards.
The slabs can be arranged in multiple two- and three-dimensional configurations, including cubes and cylinders. A flexible tile, able to mold to complex curves, could be available in five years. SmartSlab’s software will incorporate artificial intelligence by 2007.
Targetti North America
1513 East Saint Gertrude Pl.
Santa Ana, CA 92705