Bright Future for Glowing Wallpaper

As the New Year begins, it's out with the old and in with the new. Top of the list for your home: energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs -- gone! Screw in those newly improved CFLs to save energy and stop global warming.

But just as you're doing that, brace yourself for another technology switcheroo: out with the CFLs and in with LEDs and their new, even smaller and more pliable cousins OLEDs (as in light-emitting diodes and organic light-emitting diodes).

You already see LEDs backlighting cell phones and TVs, and in cars and street lighting, as well as in some residential and office lighting. OLEDs are even better because their surface is a thin layer of organic compounds, which means the emitting thingamajig is tiny, ultra-thin and more pliable. Best of all, it runs on very low voltages.

Which means you'll save more energy and cut carbon emissions, and innovative designers will be able to embed these suckers in, say, bendable flat-panel TV screens, large light wall panels, or perhaps wallpaper.That's what a Welsh start-up, Lomox, has in mind with a light-emitting wallpaper that will glow. We don't know how that works exactly (how do you turn it on and off?) but it does sound better than the crappy stuff the landlord has put up.

But the Welsh aren't the only ones going this route. Treehugger notes that Panasonic is working on panels as thin as 1mm that could be embedded in not only wallpaper but curtains. You might not even need a window -- great if you live in Manhattan -- if this technology is perfected (the downsides: OLEDs are, for the moment, expensive and have a short life span).

Still, it's all good news because lighting takes up a big chunk of home energy use. Soon all you'll have to do is screw in a light bulb (or hang the wallpaper).
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