I continue to be fascinated by the potential of electrically-conductive inks for architectural applications. The ability to radically simplify low-voltage DC-based lighting and sensing systems by integrating printed electrical traces directly into architectural materials offers a innovation path towards distributing discrete points of light throughout an architectural environment.
Following on my posts regarding the work of Leah Buechley and Jie Qi from MIT’s Media Lab, I just ran across Bare Conductive, a London-based startup that is developing and commercializing its own conductive ink and related electronic products. From their website:
Bare Conductive Ltd. focuses on the development and manufacture of electrically conductive materials. In the fall of 2011, Bare launched its first product, Bare Paint. This is the first non-toxic conductive paint aimed at individuals interested in engaging with interactive electronics and in bringing surfaces to life. Bare’s products provide users with an exciting platform perfect for prototyping, experimenting, and learning about electronics. The Company’s goal is to engage people of all ages with electronics and technology. Bare Conductive Ltd. was founded by four postgraduate students from the Innovation Design Engineering Course at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. The Company received an Honorable Mention at the Prix ARS Electronica in 2010, and won the Technology Strategy Board’s 2011 Disruptive Solutions competition.
Bare Conductive has its own Kickstarter project running right now for an Arduino-based kit that includes sophisticated multi-channel capacitive touch and distance sensing. Combining this capacitive touch sensing with with conductive fields of “electric paint” allows users to create 2D, touchable interfaces in whatever graphic shape they desire.
A fascinating example Bare Conductive includes on it website of a flexible, integrated system of PV-solar arrays that artist Elenora Nicoletti created. Nicoletti uses the “electric paint” to connect the PV cells together in a thin, flexible laminate sealed in plastic. The art piece allows users to charge their mobile devices, presumably via 5v USB — the “afterglow” effect appears to be a passive phosphor-based material, not an active EL or LED system. Still, I think the possibilities are obvious.