UK Sign Prototype Bridges Analog And Digital

May 27, 2014 by Dave Haynes

Pixel Track from Berg on Vimeo.

A British company called Berg is testing prototypes of a system that bridges analog and digital signage, using a system similar to the sort of cool, old-school arrivals and departures flipboards you see in some airports and rail stations.

The PixelTrack system is set up like a horizontal track, with blocks that flip between two contrasting colors, to create text statements wedded to a cloud updating service.

This is how The Verge describes it:

The design consultancy and cloud services firm Berg seems to have a fixation on mixing digital and analog, using web connectivity to enhance otherwise dull objects, from paper to a cuckoo clock. Its latest experiment brings those same elements together to create a sign that can have its display changed from the web, even though there’s nothing electronic on the display itself. Called the Pixel Track, the sign is built around what Berg is calling “mechanical pixels” — basically little blocks that flip back and forth between two different colors. In one case, the sign might use black blocks to represent pixels that are “off” and white blocks to form letters out of the pixels that are “on.”

The sign is a long, thin strip just five blocks high, and multiple signs can apparently be placed side by side to form increasingly long displays. Behind the display is what Berg says is effectively a Hot Wheels track that allows a small scanner to run back and forth along it, flipping the mechanical pixels on command. Only the scanner is connected to the web, limiting how much battery it needs to run. And because the display has nothing electronic on it, it will permanently maintain its state until the scanner changes it again. Berg says this should allow the entire system to run on battery power for a long period of time.

This not the first time a company has tried something new with the old mechanical signboards. I wrote a couple of years ago about another company in New York that was coming at similar tech from a different angle.


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