Dezeen Magazine

Thermochromic tapestry changes colour in response to Wi-Fi signals

Arnhem-based designer Richard Vijgen has created a colour-changing tapestry from thermochromic yarn that visualises Wi-Fi signals emitted by smart devices.

Presented at Dutch Design Week as part of an exhibition called Work In Progress, the Wi-Fi tapestry is linked to a controller that is able to tune in to signals sent out by phones, computers and other smart devices.

When it detects activity, the controller converts the wireless signals into an electric current that is delivered to the tapestry via a series of wires.

The thermal elements embedded in the tapestry then convert the current to heat, which causes the thermochromic yarns to change colour.

Once activated, the fibres turn from midnight blue to a silvery white and back again.

"Wi-Fi Tapestry is a dynamic wall hanging that visualises the wireless activity of a space," explained Richard Vijgen. "The tapestry visualises the ever-changing landscape of radio frequencies around us."

"Like a Shroud of Turin cloth, streams of data transmitted through the space appear as visual traces from an invisible dimension, that gradually form and dissolve."

As Vijen develops his Wi-Fi tapestry further, he is interested to see how it behaves in different spaces and at different scales.

"I am interested in the invisible world of digital signals that surround us," he told Dezeen. "A while ago I developed an app called Architecture of Radio that visualises the wireless infrastructure around us. This was a theoretical visualisation based on global datasets about the locations of cell towers and wifi routers."

"The Wifi Tapestry is a next step where I wanted to create a visualisation based on the actual signals in a space and visualise it in a way that blends with the domestic space it describes."

"I was looking for an ambient visualisation that gives you a sense of the wireless activity of a space, like the windows in a room give you a sense of the weather outside, not as a notification or a number on a screen, but as a quality of the space."

Dutch Design Week took place in Eindhoven from 21 to 29 October 2017.

Also exhibiting at the event was Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Fujita Keisuke, whose Voltaic Realism installation used real-time tweets from people expressing suicidal thoughts to activate a motor-powered needle that scratches away at a monolithic block of carbon.