It’s time to say goodbye to switchboards, for now you just have to touch a flower on your wallpaper to activate lamps and heaters - and even control music systems.

The Living Wall project, led by Leah Buechley at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, uses magnetic and conductive paints to create circuitry in attractive designs to make your walls as interactive as possible.

When combined with cheap temperature, brightness and touch sensors, LEDs and Bluetooth, the wall becomes a control surface able to “talk” to nearby devices. In fact, one can touch a flower to turn on a lamp, for example, or set heaters to fire up when the room gets cold.

“Our goal is to make technologies that users can build on and change without needing a lot of technical skill,” New Scientist quoted Buechley as saying.

To create the wallpaper, the team started with steel foil sandwiched between layers of paper that are coated with magnetic paint - acrylic paint infused with iron particles. Over this base they paint motifs such as flowers and vines using conductive paint, which uses copper particles rather than iron. The designs make up circuits to which sensors, lights and other elements can be attached.

“It really is just a sheet of paper, and could be produced with existing printing and construction methods,” said Buechley.

But using exposed circuitry on your wall is not at all risky, says Buechley, explaining that the system runs at 20 volts, drawing around 2.5 amps when fully loaded with devices. “You can go up and touch the wall and not even feel a tingle,” she said.

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