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E-paper that simulates skies in the underground

E-paper that simulates skies in the underground

Posting in Design

The underground journey in London can appear all doom and gloom, but what if you could see the outside, simulated?

The underground in London often smells a bit musty, and certainly amongst your fellow passengers, suited & booted while attempting to read the news on your iPad in the rush hour, it can appear all doom and gloom.

The only visual stimulation -- minus the averted eyes of other people -- are advertisements, often smothered in graffiti and plastered above the underground maps in the carriage. Apart from that, you experience a whistling in your ears, and pitch-black surroundings.

Feeling disconnected? A group of British design students have pondered the issue, and come up with a concept display system to mimic the world above when you have to endure the morning rat-race.

The display system, dubbed 'Canopy', uses flexible electrophoretic technology -- more commonly known as e-paper -- panels fixed to the interior of a train. When the train is in motion, the display gives you "a worm's eye view of passing landmarks above you and a generated sky".

The designers say that this "puts you back in contact with real life on the surface".

The content is stored on a PC and updated via WiFi connections, either at the depot or suitable stations -- handy considering a number of stations now have these capabilities due to the upcoming Olympic games.

However, it's not all to keep our spirits up on the daily journey. Of course, the displays will also provide another means to advertise to passengers. The creators of Canopy, Royal College of Art students Matthew Batchelor, Amrita Kulkarni, and Emma Laurin, imagine that the system could be used for "unobtrusive" advertising or relevant events.

Image credit: Matt Batchelor, Amrita Kulkarni, and Emma Laurin

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure