Electromagnet Dot Display (via Breakfast)
Cable channel TNT looked to the inventors over at BREAKFAST to help them promote their new series called Perception in a rather unusual way, grabbing the public’s attention. What they came up with is a merge of both old and new technology to create one giant digital display. No they haven’t re-designed the OLED super-screens we’ve become accustomed to, but rather evolved the ‘dot-matrix’ (mechanical indicators) display of yesteryear into a full-blown modern super-screen. This is a mechanical screen that is able to display the real-time movement of those standing in front of it.
In TNT’s new series the lead character, a paranoid schizophrenic, is hired by the FBI to solve complex cases, which is usually overcome by him seeing patterns in almost everything associated with the crime. It is through those patterns that the BREAKFAST team designed their 23 X 12ft display that consists of over 40,000 electromagnetic flip-disk dots. The display is actually interactive where it projects a real-time image of people in front of the screen to which they can erase (through their movements) seemingly obscure sentences to reveal a cryptic message or phrase. To accomplish this feat the team ‘re-engineered’ some old-school technology from years past similar to the old-style flip-disk boards found on bus destination displays and train/plain terminals. Since the team hasn’t revealed the exact build-plans for their display, they did leave some clues (taking a cue from TNT’s show) as to what was used.
The reverse side of the display (via Breakfast)
Obviously, the team used old-school flip-disk technology which consists of black-background panels with small metal disks that are painted white on one side. When power is applied to the panel, the disk ‘flips’ from black to white as a solenoid attached to the disk-hinge aligns itself with a magnetic field generated by the electromagnet. The team likely used some sort of proximity camera that grabs a live feed of the individual(s) located directly in front of the display and processes that image data with specialized software (fancy term as the actual software they used is unknown), which is then transferred to the display along with added text. The team then over-juiced their modular analog display to run over 15 times the speed of the originals which gives the surface a more fluidic range of motion. This of course is just a guess. However you look at it, the display is still pretty amazing. For those of you in the New York City area, you can view the display 24 hours a day until July 29 (2012) at 32nd and 6th avenue in downtown Manhattan.