If the slew of media releases is anything to go by, self-driving cars will soon be the norm on our roads, leaving our hands free for more pressing pastimes such as our all-consuming commitment to smart phone scrolling.
But the automotive industry isn’t the only one using self-driving technology. The same technology employed by Tesla and Uber – among others – has now been used to create something completely unexpected: self-driving walls.
New media design studio ENESS has taken apart the mechanics of the self-driving car and used the technology to create walls that ‘drive’ themselves. The result is an altogether more interactive experience than we are likely to receive on our hands-free roads.
These smart walls use Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to track the actions of people standing nearby. Somewhat similar to the experience of playing Nintendo Wii, these movements are then transformed into a spectacular and highly-interactive visual display.
So, how can walls drive themselves? The technology employs programmable LED lights, which are built into the hi-tech wall. Visual content – such as colour forms, animations and complex patterns – are then able to be mapped across the wall using ENESS’ in-house software.
The visual content able to be created on these walls isn’t just limited to finger puppets. Anything from animated illustrations to generative 3D visuals to colour gradients, complex patterns and illusions can be created and displayed.
It’s not just visually interactive, either. ENESS’ self-driving walls are able to respond to sound, touch and time as well as movement. These functions are all pre-programmed into the software.
Already, the walls are available in a variety of materials, including acrylic, wood and veneer. A number of other surfaces – in materials as diverse and unexpected as fabric, canvas and wool – are currently in development. According to ENESS, the materials are fully customisable for integration into any surface. In fact, ENESS are actively seeking queries from architects who wish to test out different material combinations.
So far, the concept of self-driving walls has appealed to a broad range of clients. The technology has been built into walls at Royal Stacks, Westfield, Melbourne Museum and the paediatrics ward at Malvern’s Cabrini Hospital.
The latter is a telling example of just what this self-driving technology can bring to a space. At Cabrini Hospital, the wall’s content was expressly designed to bring happiness to children in an otherwise anxiety-inducing space. Programmed animations – such as flying birds, sprinting athletes and speeding trains – are all triggered by the childrens’ movements. Not only do these interactive walls provide a good deal of distraction, they also allow patients to travel through the walls of the hospital to the world outside via images that trigger associations of freedom, space and adventure.
Really, who needs a self-driving car when you can travel through walls?