Berg Cloud, certainly the most innovative company in Europe designed a lovely idea for an interactive and low-consumption display. It was created for the project Futur Cities (sub-project Connected Streets) in collaboration with Catapult. A lovely and smart project that reminds me what Breakfast did few years ago with “Perception”.
The idea to take inspiration from digital display to go back to mechanical solution is incredible, in consequence they designed very simple object, easy to reproduce and share and the most important, very poetical.
Pixel Track uses a system of mechanical pixels to make a display which reflects a particular kind of emerging networked use. While behaviour is driven by the network, the main display surface is a passive manufactured object, the pixels themselves containing no electrical components at all. The connectivity, electronics and the mechanics are all contained in a small train which moves up and down the main display surface changing pixels as it moves. This means the display has some unusual properties.
The display updates more slowly than most electronic displays, it doesn’t refresh the whole surface 25 times a second. It is dramatically cheaper since the main display surface can be manufactured with straightforward injection moulding techniques — all the complexity is in the train. There are also far fewer electrical drivers and circuits than a comparable LED dotmatrix.
The pixels are bi-stable, which means, like e-ink, it requires no power to maintain a message on its surface. Pixel Track only needs power when the message needs to change. This means, in situations where the message might only need to change say once an hour, that it is believable that the system runs on a battery for long periods.
Because the surface of the display is manufactured, it isn’t constrained materially by being a glass screen like and LCD display, or like LEDs. It’s aesthetically very flexible.