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We are in the information age- and one of the incredible benefits is that new innovations and ideas can be exchanged across various fields. Scientific discoveries inform technology, which in turn can informs art and design.  So, ask yourself, what do marine biology, military technology, and interior design have in common?


Photo : Matthieu Sontag, Licence CC-BY-SA.

University of Illinois scientist John Rogers and marine biologist Roger Hanlon of the Marine Biological Laboratory have partnered to create a fascinating new type of camouflage for the U.S. military. The electronic camouflage effectively mimics the skin of squid, octopuses, and other cephalopods, adapting to changes in lighting and environment color to actively shift to different colors and patterns. In other words, scientists have finally invented a working form of active camouflage.

The multi-layered cephalopod skin system uses a top layer of photovoltaic dyes placed atop photoreceptors made of silver. The photoreceptors sense different intensities and bandwidths of light, forcing the dyes in the top layer to change colors to match their surroundings. The system, only measuring in at the width of two human hairs, perfectly mimics the skin of cephalopods.

While the military applications of the sci-fi tech are clear as day, John Rogers of the University of Illinois believes that his invention also holds exciting potential for fashion and home interior designers. In an interview with Popular Mechanics, Rogers notes that, “these [adapative cells] could be useful in visually interesting surfaces for interior design — for instance, wall coverings that change to green when illuminated blue.”

2014 is the Year Science-Fiction Becomes Reality in the Home

Walls that adapt to mood or changes in light have long been the stuff of science-fiction. That said, so, too, have walls that function as mini oxygen cells. This recent news out of the University of Illinois is simply continuing 2014’s trend of exciting new sci-fi home technologies turned real. In August 2014, Travelers Today reported on synthetic leaves developed at the Royal College of Art that can be used as natural wallcoverings. (We have the full scoop on that here) The leaves draw in carbon dioxide and breathe out fresh air, just like plants.

Heat-Change-WallpaperDesigner Shi Yuan has even created a wallpaper that changes its pattern when exposed to heat, often from a wall-mounted radiator. Heat sensitive shower tiles create a dazzling display of color in the bathroom.

Multi-Housing News recently ran a story detailing the many modern wallcoverings and other space age tech home interior designers are commonly working into their designs this year. Overall, home interior designers are seeing a shift toward “smart homes.” Using advanced thermostats that can be controlled from mobile devices, like those from Nest, homeowners can control their energy bills and their environments more readily. Increasingly popular rainwater recycling systems built into the gutters of apartments and houses, wi-fi enabled appliances that respond to voice and text commands, and, yes, contemporary wallcoverings that change colors based on lighting — these are quickly falling into the domain of modern interior designers and home improvement contractors. The future, ostensibly, is now.

Heat-Shower-TilesWhat do you think about this monumental shift towards the hi-tech in interior design? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credits

Heat Sensitive Wallpaper
Octopus Vulgaris
Heat Sensitive Tiles