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Carpeting with directional LEDs. Image courtesy of Desso.

Imagine a busy office building with carpet that lights up the path to an office you’ve selected from a list in the lobby, or flooring that illuminates to guide you to your seat in a dim theater in response to information on your ticket. Lighting giant Philips (Eindhoven, Netherlands) and commercial carpet leader Desso (Waalwijk, Netherlands) will work together on a novel solution that provides information, safety, inspiration and navigation via specially designed carpets that incorporate LED technology, due for release in 2014.

Philips and Desso announced on 18 November their exclusive partnership to develop a unique light transmissive carpet combined with visible solid-state LED units and sensors that respond to sound, motion and other input.

The specialty transmissive carpet can have between 25 and 10,000 LEDs integrated into each square meter of its backing, according to patent applications by Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. filed in 2011. Using LEDs as light sources underneath carpet is especially advantageous due to their small size. Numerous colors of LEDs can be incorporated into carpet padding or subflooring in a thin array measuring only a millimeter or less in depth.

The transmissive carpet will be designed for high traffic areas in a variety of different colors, shapes and sizes, making it highly flexible for applications such as gaming, emergency exit indicators, personalized in-building navigation systems, carpet that shows lit foot traces or responds to sound, or clutter-free retail navigation and advertisement, among others.