Using Low-Rez LEDs And Fabric To Create Interesting Ambient Visual Experiences

March 22, 2021 by Dave Haynes

Most of the marketing and much of the design execution for LED has been focused, rightly, on increasingly fine pixel pitch displays and tight resolutions, but there’s an interested diversion some designers are taking with addressable LED lights.

Banks and commercial property developers may regard a big DV LED video wall as a rounding error in an overall capital building or reno project, but there are many other scenarios and circumstances in which budgets are finite for things like large format digital visuals.

Going with pixel pitches that are lower and more suitable to distance viewing trims costs, but the other option is using LED lighting arrays that are then covered by a fabric layer that diffuses the lighting and softens the visuals.

This is a US company called Color Kinetics, with a demo of what’s possible with active versions of fabric lightboxes used for many, many years by large format printers.

It’s entirely meant as an active, ambient surface. You couldn’t do much in the way of messaging and representations of things like photos or logos would be softened smudges.

But it takes a vertical surface from being a fixed design choice – like stone, brick or metal – to something that is changeable and dynamic, at a relatively low cost.

It’s just money if the end-user likes this sort of thing, but wants more discernible images. This office property’s lobby was designed by New York’s ESI Design to have a similar set-up, with lower rez LED lighting and a diffusion layer. But a tighter pixel pitch opens up the ability to get a little more photo-realistic.

The New York printing firm Duggal, going back a couple of years, added motion LED lighting arrays to lightboxes, via a product called Lumipixels. Duggal was already well-known as having really good static fabric lightboxes, so they just had to add software controls.

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