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If These Walls Could Talk

July 30, 2008


I want to start off by saying that I’m not a fan of wallpaper. I associate it with homes built in the ‘60s—putrid greens, faded yellows, mauve sheets of paper stuck to the walls, curling at the corners. Just doesn’t hold good connotations for me. Plus, it seems like such a hassle to put up. All that paste and the stress to perfectly align every sheet. Not for me.

Today I read an article in Wired about some new wallpaper types that all the kids are talking about. Apparently wallpaper has advanced beyond the limitations of sticky paper; now wallpaper can be made of other substances that let it glow on the wall (in tech speak, according to the article, “the glow emanates from conductive materials beneath the decorative facade: a transparent indium tin oxide film (used in LCDs) over a layer of phosphorus backed with a silver-based solution). And they’re more flexible than before. A lot of this new wallpaper sticks to the wall but can be pealed off when you decide you want it elsewhere, like when you buy a new home and want to take your expensive wallpaper with you.

Here’s my idea (it’s been a while since I’ve posted an idea on here): Take this new wallpaper technology and combine it with something similar to e-ink so that the wallpaper itself can change. There are a myriad of uses for and variations on this theme:

Traditional wallpaper that “grows”: I’m sure you’ve seen wallpaper with watercolor vines on it. Those vines are stationary, forever set in place. But what if they grew? Slowly, very slowly, the vines—or any flower—could grow and change over time, based on fractal-based parameters programmed into the paper. This could add life and variation to your home.

Wallpaper that displays photos: There’s a running joke in the comments section right now about me giving away life-size cardboard cutouts of myself to anyone who gets a friend to read my blog. What if, instead of having a tacky cardboard thing in your living room, you had me on your wallpaper? (Or, more practically, a photo of yourself or your family.) The wallpaper could be linked to your computer, so it could either be set on one photo or scroll through a slideshow. It could also display reminders and weather reports.

Wallpaper that listens: Okay, this could be a bit creepy, but hear me out. What if parts of your wallpaper had tiny microphones and voice-recognition software built in. It could create artwork based on your conversations. It hears you talking about a recent hiking trip you took and some pizza you ate and your thoughts on fuel cell cars. The wallpaper wirelessly hooks up to an online database and downloads photos of those things and displays them in an artful way on your wall. Your conversations become visual. As an added bonus, when you go off on a tangent and want to remember what you were talking about, you can look at the wall and recall, “Oh yeah, back to what I was saying about Muppets in the news.”

These are just random ideas, but I’m intrigued to see if they’re feasible. First I need to find a contact in the fast-paced, cutthroat world of wallpaper manufacturing…

(Caroline wants credit for the subject line.)
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob permalink
    July 31, 2008 7:23 pm

    The Muppets are making headlines these days, aren’t they?

  2. Dionne permalink
    November 17, 2009 2:12 pm

    Taking your “wallpaper that grows” a step further….what if it was a wallpaper that grows your spuds with eyes and tentacles!! I would, so, get that for you!!!

  3. November 17, 2009 2:52 pm

    (shudder)

    That would be a horrible, horrible thing to do.

    • Dionne permalink
      November 17, 2009 5:45 pm

      So I guess that’s a no. Well maybe I’ll make one that has pictures of cookies on it. It could be scratch and sniff.

      • November 17, 2009 11:38 pm

        That’s a no. But scratch and sniff would make for awesome wallpaper. Or wallpaper that releases smells to fit the mood of the party.

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