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Philips Demonstrates Photonic Textiles


Press Information

September 2005

PHILIPS DEMONSTRATES PHOTONIC TEXTILES THAT TURN FABRIC INTO INTELLIGENT DISPLAYS

Berlin, Germany - At the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) 2005, Philips demonstrated its new photonic textiles - fabrics that contain lighting systems and can therefore serve as displays. With the development of this new and unusual technology, Philips Research is pointing the way toward a new age in the long history of textiles.

At first glance, objects such as clothing, towels, upholstery, and drapes would seem unlikely places on which to place intelligent and interactive systems. Yet these low-tech objects figure prominently in our lives. By integrating flexible arrays of multicolored light-emitting diodes (LEDs) into fabrics - and doing so without compromising the softness of the cloth - Philips Research is bringing these inert objects to life.

To meet the challenge of creating light-emitting cloth objects that retain their softness, Philips Research and textile institute TITV Greiz have developed an interconnecting substrate made entirely of cloth. Researchers from Philips have also created flexible and drapable substrates from plastics and films.

On these substrates, the researchers have placed passive matrices of compact RGB LED packages. The pixelated luminaires with relatively large distance between the RGB pixels have been embedded in such everyday objects as cushions, backpacks, and floor mats. Since the fabric material covering the miniature light sources naturally diffuses light, each pixel seems bigger than it actually is. The LEDs, therefore, remain small and unobtrusive, while the fabric retains its soft look and feel.

Photonic textiles can also be made interactive. Philips has achieved interactivity by incorporating sensors (such as orientation and pressure sensors) and communication devices (such as Bluetooth, GSM) into the fabric.

The results of these innovations are as various and promising as they are novel. Photonic textiles open up a wide range of applications in the fields of ambient lighting, communication, and personal health care. Photonic textiles are still a young business. Even at this early stage, however, Philips envisions partnerships with interior and apparel brands that see the potential of photonic textiles to revolutionize the very concept of fabric. The demonstration at IFA is also meant to show the opportunities offered by this technology and to gain customers' and visitors' feedback on these options.

An interconnecting, flexible substrate with a matrix of red, green and blue LEDs is the fundamental building block of application prototypes of photonic textiles.


Applied in soft fabric, the light from the small pixels diffuses, resulting in more or less continuous light-emitting soft surface.

About Royal Philips Electronics

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) is one of the world's biggest electronics companies and Europe's largest, with sales of EUR 30.3 billion in 2004. With activities in the three interlocking domains of healthcare, lifestyle and technology and 159,700 employees in more than 60 countries, it has market leadership positions in medical diagnostic imaging and patient monitoring, color television sets, electric shavers, lighting and silicon system solutions. News from Philips is located at www.philips.com/newscenter


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