Dynamic Ceramics

Mood Tiles? The connection between these heat sensitive ceramic tiles and the reoccurring fad in jewelry is clear to make, but where is the innovation? The technology/know how of making heat reactant, color changing materials has been around at least since the 1970’s, the time in which the ‘mood ring’ was a popular craze in jewelry.1 (click the link for an explanation at “How Stuff Works) Moving Color has used this and other similar technologies to create dynamism in ceramic and glass tiles. Currently, the application seems to be used largely for decorating purposes, to add another level of life to surfaces that come into contact with heat generating objects. While the addition of interactive elements to design is exciting and eye catching, the possibilities for this material application as a measurement tool for ambient temperature reveal more interesting opportunities for innovation.

On their website, Moving Color shows one example of the material being tested as exterior cladding on a tower. In the description of the project the company explains that as the ambient temperature becomes cold the black tiles absorb more heat while in warmer temperatures the tiles, having turned white, reflect the heat. Energy management is one strategy that could benefit from a material like this. Admittedly, the data for any tests that may have been performed were not included in the product description, though the potential seems to be there.

Excited by the possibilities for using the ceramic tiles in design, I came up with few applications worth sharing. 1) In any space where extreme heat might be a danger, the use of these tiles as a warning via coloration would be interesting, for example – stoves, ovens, or fireplaces. 2) As a flooring tile, measurement of traffic could be determined, as the frictional heat created would mark movement. One thought was that a retail center of any sort could mark popularity of merchandise based on the amount of traffic tracked on the floor. 3) What might be the thermal mass capabilities of the tiles if used on the interior of the building? Like previously stated, there seems to be a lot of potential for interesting uses that go beyond purely aesthetic. It will be interesting to keep this material in mind for possible future use – as well as to see what other applications people might find.

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