Learning from Temperature Sensitive Materials

These temperature sensitive tiles from Moving Color caught my attention this week. They are composed of recycled glass with a temperature sensitive film embedded in the glass. They can be activated by ambient, body, and water temperatures. The tiles are being applied to create interactive displays in office buildings, businesses, schools, museums, and even residential ‘mood ring-eque’ showers.

While I am not necessarily convinced by any particular applications of these tiles I have seen so far, the role of the interaction played in these tiles is fascinating and brings up many questions for application.

As a designer, I can think of plenty of materials that I want to go touch, but the general public is not normally interacting on such a level with their surroundings. These tiles could play an interesting role in something like a science museum learning about heat and temperature sensation.

But this idea of your material showing properties of heat could actually be extremely interesting on a much larger scale than human to material interactions. What if there was somewhat similar exterior cladding materials that didn’t change colors by ambient or radiant temperature, but that actually projected to the public the energy usage of the building. Could we teach the general public more about how much our buildings are keeping us warm in the winter and cool in the summer in a visual way that users of the building and those passing by could understand on a day to day basis? As cool and frivolous as a ‘mood ring-esque’ shower would be, perhaps these temperature sensitive materials can be used in a more prolific way. Instead of boasting energy efficiency accreditation programs that the public cannot relate to besides with a ranking system or learn from without curiosity and research on their own, our buildings could show the public what they are doing by temperature sensitive materials displayed on the outside of the building.

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