This is something called Luminous Textiles – a Philips product that blends multi-coloured LEDs with fabric panels.
I’ve seen stuff a bit like this using relatively low-rez LED modules and a layer of film that diffuses and softens the light.
In this case, it’s for a working exhibit at Tokyo’s Narita airport that celebrates toilets made by the Japanese company TOTO. It is a set of working toilets on a concourse at the airport, and the LED-lit panels are on the front of the gallery.
The narrative explaining the video says:
“The hundreds of people sitting there waiting for their flights are probably pretty bored. That’s why we thought that the videos displayed on the external walls of GALLERY TOTO, in particular, should be something that anyone can enjoy. Actually, people enjoy watching what others are doing – people watching, right? So, the video that runs on the external wall – ‘Toilet Life’ – that’s the hint. There are people doing weird dances and stuff around the toilet bowl. We made a story that sparks the imagination by wondering what other people do in the toilet. The fact that you can see a place that is usually hidden is another element which engages your curiosity.”
Art stuff aside, I like what this product offers. There are several projects on the Luminous Textiles page that are just ambient lighting with some motion, but the product supports full motion video, recommending 25 frames per second but capable of twice that. That means you could do some pretty interesting things with this, particularly when there is a big space to fill and the budget is never going to be there to do fine-pitch LED, which can cost $25K or more per square metre for the finest pitch stuff. This stuff, by comparison, is 60mm pitch, so waaaay low rez but good enough for things like shadows and silhouettes.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.