Wired Wallpaper Offers Alternative to Outlets

February 12, 2008 by Lisa Zyga weblog
Wired Wallpaper
Top view of an electrical device (yellow) connected with pins (blue) to conductive wiring (gray) concealed in wallpaper (red). (Adapted image from the Conducting Wallpaper patent application.)

Philips has recently designed a type of wallpaper with conducting stripes running through it, enabling electrical devices to be hooked up to just about anywhere on the wall.

Besides walls, the wallpaper could be attached to ceilings and floors as well, according to the company's recent patent application. Electrical devices would connect to the invisible wiring with contact pins, and could tap into a range of voltages, from 1 to 12 volts. The global company hopes that such a system will be ideal for future OLED devices, but could also accommodate LEDs, TVs, multimedia systems, video projectors, lamps, clocks, electroluminescent panels, and more.

Philips' conducting wallpaper is not the first of its kind, but the company hopes that its version can overcome some of the disadvantages of previous versions. Namely, Philips' wallpaper provides a range of voltages for devices, which can easily be tapped into from many positions on the wall. By repositioning the pins to correspond to specific pitches of the stripes, different voltage levels can be achieved. For safety, the system would likely have a total maximum voltage level of 50-60 volts.

The conductive stripes would be made of a metallic material such as copper, aluminum, silver, gold or steel, and receive power from an external electrical supply. The wallpaper, described as "a usual wallpaper or any kind of tapestry," would simultaneously provide electrical insulation and aesthetic value. The stripes could either be glued onto the wall and covered by the wallpaper, or the stripes could be fabricated into the wallpaper, which would then be glued to the wall as a whole sheet.

Philips also suggests a few methods for hanging the electrical devices, such as a double-sided adhesive or a mechanical connection using nails or screws. Another alternative could be a mechanical fastening involving the pins themselves.

With wired wallpaper, Philips hopes to give consumers the option of changing the positions of their electrical fixtures without needing to rewire the entire room with conventional, behind-the-wall wiring. The idea could dramatically the change the future of homes and buildings.

Conducting Wallpaper patent application via New Scientist

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5 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2008
Sounds like a Fire waiting to happen to me.
2 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2008
How do you baby proof something like this?! :)

Also, forget "wired"; I see a wireless application in this.
2 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2008
You get caught in the rain come inside put your arm on the wall to take off your shoes and zap
4 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2008
1 to 12 volts would not be enough to zap anyone, or cause a fire with proper power supply monitoring, 'though I doubt they could supply enough current for a decent-sized OLED display.
...I just can't see the need quite frankly!
5 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2008
Completely daft.

1. Your mobile phone and portable radio no longer work (spacing of metal strips most likely will act as Farafay cage).

2. Not very environmentally friendly. Can't imagine that the resistance of long thin film wires in your wallpaper will be low - thus bumping up your electricity bill. Unless of course you wanted a heated room too.

not rated yet Feb 18, 2008
And what about the costs of conducting metals? Even extremely thin sheets of metal would cost huge amounts of money to produce.

It seems to me like a total waste. Interesting idea, but not practical.

The risk of personal injury would be very low, but any amount of current and the risk of fire would go up rather quickly.

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