For years, interactivity has been relegated to glassy multi-touch screens. Now, the world is getting another smart material: concrete.
NOWlab, the innovation branch of the 3D printing company BigRep, designed a slab of concrete that reacts to human touch. The concrete wall was cast in a 3D-printed formwork that shaped the wall into a honeycomb-like pattern inspired by Arabic tiles. At the top of the structure, three LED lights fill the hexagonal holes and light up like a lamp when skin touches the outside of the concrete.
This material witchery is possible thanks to a series of capacitive sensors that are embedded into the concrete. The sensors, which are connected to the LEDs via an internal cable, effectively turn the wall into a switch. It’s a clever bit of technology that in the future could lead to some pretty cool applications from turning on lights to activating other devices.