What you get mixing electronic and fabrics together? What comes immediately to mind it’s wearable computing, "smart" clothes interacting with who’s wearing them and the surrounding environment. But "smart fabrics" term doesn’t inevitably means wearable computing: textiles are everywhere in our homes and their (literal) flexibility lets us imagine many other applications.

Like, for example, a multimedia wall. Enters Wall-E(motion), created by danish studio Diffus Design but with a strong italian DNA: it’s been developed with Inntex, a Florence-based company specialized in innovative fabrics.

Wall-E(motion) is a modular system of textile discs connected together by metallic clips, in this way creating (as the name implies) a "wall" that can be simply decorative or also functional (as a curtain, or a room divider). Discs can be made by plain, passive fabric or become active elements: they can generate light via integrated LEDs and even emit sound thanks to an electrostatic element which turns them into flat speakers. Electric power and control signals travel through the "wall" on a conductive yarn embroidered in the discs and on the metallic clips connecting the discs themselves.

With LEDs and speakers, Wall-E(motion) acts as a modular multimedia wall. Light- and sound-emitting discs can be positioned almost anywhere within the matrix of the curtain and the system is controlled using a smartphone or a computer connected via Bluetooth (a receiving module is integrated in the ceiling rail).

Moreover, Wall-E(motion) can always evolve with new functions, thanks to its modularity. For example, future textile discs could integrate proximity or temperature sensors, or other output devices.

Programming the right "intelligence" in its control module, Wall-E(motion) can be almost anyhting. "We wanted to create - says Riccardo Marchesi, managing director for Inntex - a modular system, able to 'talk' with other objects. This can be made in many ways: with communication protocols, like Wi-Fi, or with technologies coming from domotics, like Konnex. We’ve just made our first steps and don’t know yet which direction we’ll take… We have many ideas on new modules to develop in the short term, to create an object with different forms of interaction".

 

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