This article was originally published on May 28, 2014 but we think it still rocks!
Pixel Track—an innovation from futuristic product developers Berg(who also made the Little Printer) in collaboration with Future Cities Catapult—may be the technology to seamlessly bridge analog signs of the past, and digitally-enhanced visages of the future.
Pixel Track is a new kind of connected display that uses a system of mechanical pixels on a track so it can change its message with little need for electricity. Using a mechanical actuator, the machine sends a scanning head that moves like a train along the array of physical pixels, turning them as it moves. Unlike an LED display, no power is used to maintain the pixel's color, as it's a single-tone tile. Power is only needed to change the pixels.
The scanning head is also hooked up to a platform Berg created, including a connection to a web API. This means Pixel Track can receive information and data from remote computers. Thus, The Internet of Things now exists in public signs and information displays. Shopkeepers can change messages on their storefront windows from home, or movie theatres can adjust their showtimes and ticket availability from a distance instantaneously. It's a total fusion of analog displays and internet-enabled technology.
In a video highlighting the prototype, the company explains that Pixel Track is a an alternate system to electronic displays like LEDs, LCDs, and TV panels that are not energy efficient and can be intrusive to their environments. Pixel Track strives to make connected displays more accessible, more flexible, and "more in tune with the places where they sit." Furthermore, Berg explains that the device offers the "representations you get in software systems on phones and screens" but they are now "elegantly brought into physical spaces."
Though Pixel Track is just a prototype at the moment, it wouldn't surprise us if the future of public signs were internet-enabled smart facades.
Watch a video that explains the device in detail and shows it in action:
See more on Berg's website.