Sure, you love your LED flat panel television display, and businesses the world over love their jumbo-LED-screen advertisements. That’s because these screens can be used to advertise different things at different times, as appropriate, and allow for different images to run on the same surface–both of which are more problematic with traditional sign-based advertising. The only downside, of course, is the electricity involved.

A new design from Sun-D (which comes to us via Design Buzz) aims to address the carbon footprint associated with such advertising with an alternative to the LED screen. The Sun-D screen uses no LEDs, but rather, a series of plexiglass light-tubes assembled in a matrix (much like the good-fashioned Lite Brite of yore) that light up using whatever light happens to shine on the back side of the screen.

Sun-D Eluments
image via Sun-D

That means that — unlike LED screens, which suck up more electricity during the day, in order to compete with sunlight — the Sun-D screen was made to actually put the power of the sun to work, via a little intelligent positioning (i.e., you need the sun to shine brighter on the back of the screen than the front). Alternately, the screen can be lit up artistically with spotlights or club-lights, making it a natural fit for event producers and DJs in search of an aesthetically pleasing, off-grid LED screen alternative.

The designers of this product see a whole universe of possibilities for this “unique fusion of information and lighting design,” which comes in three different forms: the Sun-D Eluments, the Sun-D Wall and the Sun-D Advanced.

Sun-D Eluments is composed of standardized modular elements that can arranged and strung together as needed, acting as dividers or “standalone design objects” in open room. Clients can display their own custom content or simply create some artistic effects with these screens by choosing sources of moving light to illuminate them.

The sun Sun-D Wall works in much the same way but bigger, of course. The designers see the wall units as ideal when deployed in conjunction with a projector, making it “perhaps…the most special screen available on the market.” The wall unit can also make use of color images such as company, product or event logos.

Sun-D Wall
image via Sun-D

Other possible light sources include a spotlight, sunlight (direct or via mirrors), and regular ambient interior light.

The third version, the Sun-D Advanced, is limited to black and white images, but has the added bonus of being able to scroll through different images/logos, as per a remote-control device.

What seems remarkable to us about the product concept is that there is no electricity involved, just the amplification of an existing light source, be it the sweeping lights of a club scene or the sunlight shining in through a window. What seemed remarkable to the jury of Ars Electronica (which awarded the device’s originator, Jonas Burki of Switzerland, an Art and Technology grant in 2007) was this:

“…the project’s ingenuity was not seen in how it develops or uses complicated technologies, but in how it intelligently combines simple physical phenomena with mechanical approaches to solving a problem. Sunlight is normally the natural enemy of displays that work with some sort of illuminant. Sun-D exploits this inherent weakness and, in keeping with its basic concept, explores potential uses of this free and inexhaustible light source.”


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