LUMENTILE is the first classical ceramic tile turning into a “multifunctional electronic luminous tile” realized by large area and organic electronics.
The idea of the first luminous tile comes from the brilliant mind of a lab technician, but it is only in 2014 that a group of Italian researchers and professionals with university level, scientific and industrial expertise, assisted by Finnish and Spanish partners, began to create the actual project, greatly appreciated, supported and financed by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644902.
Summary of the context and overall objectives of the Project
LUMENTILE is a three-year, €3 million project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 research frame program. LUMENTILE has been focused on developing a disruptive new construction element to be used by designers and architects: a ceramic luminous sensorized electronic tile. Each tile will be made of ceramic with embedded electronic circuits and semiconductor high-efficiency LED light sources and will have the capability of changing color at the will of the user. The luminous FLOOR/WAL tiles can be installed like normal tiles by using a dry installation process, typically used in technical floating pavements, and can be deployed in private houses, public spaces, indoor or outdoor installations, for architectural design projects. In the case of VIDEO TILE, each luminous tile can also be used as a single pixel for giant video installations (e.g.: tiles with 30cm x 30cm size, with 16 independent pixels of 7.5cm x 7.5cm size can make a video of 60m x 48m size, with 800 x 640 = 0.5Mpixel resolution, for permanent installations on building facades without need for further specific maintenance).
The luminous tiles will be installed using a specially developed electrical interconnection and retaining system, so that all the tiles are electrically connected to each other and can exchange information. The luminous and electronic tiles are equipped with sensors (contactless gesture sensors for the wall tiles; pressure sensors for the floor tiles to detect people walking onto them) and constitute a network of interconnected smart-devices, that are ready for application in smart-city and smart-building environments.
LUMENTILE envisages designers and architects exploiting the intrinsic ability of the device to display lights, colors and images for both exterior and interior design and lighting. Not only could the tiles be used in shopping malls, airports and skyscrapers, but also for simple household illumination, where ambitious color and video effects would be replaced by a focus on luminous efficiency and ease of installation. Tiles are equipped with embedded sensors, for example a pressure sensor capable of detecting the presence of person standing or walking on a floor tile. In this way, the ‘smart floor panels’ can recognize when an elderly user is no longer standing or perhaps has fallen, or in security situations where a floor will be sensitive to intruders, or in shopping centers where a ‘dynamic luminous path’ can be created to direct shoppers to a particular store or defining “hot spot” for retailers (where people stay more time in front of specific place).
Prototype of luminous tiles have been constructed and used in 3 demonstrators of large size, installed in selected public spaces to disseminate the novelty of the LUMENTILE products and reach potential customers and end-users.
Conclusions for the Project
The LUMENTILE Project has reached its termination (30 April 2018, total duration 38 months).
The technological and economic impact of the Project results is high, and it is highly likely that the developed technology will lead in the early future to a commercial exploitation of the LUMENTILE products. Participants of LUMENTILE are now in the process of completing the IPR definition, and setting up a spin-off Company that will commercially exploit the results obtained in the Project.
The scientific development of the Project was aimed at achieving the Demonstration objectives. Rather than groundbreaking “Science & Technology” development, LUMENTILE aimed at obtaining the best solutions from state-of-the-art knowledge from different fields and disciplines, putting into force a real interdisciplinary effort and a cross-fertilization of know-how and competences among the Participants.
The dissemination of the Project’s results has found its peak in the exhibition of two fixed Demonstrators during the Milan Design Week, and in particular the Fuorisalone events (Milan, April 2018). The Demonstrators raised vivid interest in the public and in stakeholders, and gave a precious and valued feedback in terms of the assessment of the technical approaches chosen for the LUMENTILE prototypes. A third fixed demonstrator has been installed (and will remain in place for a field-test of 12 months duration) in the sports arena of the Milan Assago Forum, at the end of July 2019.