It’s an electrolumniscent world after all

Posted on Jan 25, 2004

I’m a nut for anything illuminated (eg. my sculptures circa 1999) so this is definitely something I can relate to…

“Illuminated Handbags. Ladies, suppose that your handbag featured a “cool, gentle light” inside, so you could see where everything was—wouldn’t that be great? Of course it would, and the good news, reports Thaddeus Herrick in The Wall Street Journal, is that a recent innovation involving an old technology called “electroluminescence” is about to make it a reality.  Electroluminescence, or EL, “uses electricity to light up specially treated plastic,” but does so in a way that “generates so little heat that it remains cool to the touch.” EL actually “has been around for decades, but for years researchers puzzled over applications because of its low light intensity and the fact that originally it only worked on flat, rigid spaces.”

Those issues have now been resolved, as “scientists and engineers at Bayer AG” have developed “a plastic film that can be molded into three dimensional shapes.” Bayer has “teamed up with Swiss lighting company Lumitec, www.lumitec.com, “ which has licensed the newly flexible EL to Bree, www.bree.de, a German handbag company, which has been trying for a very long time to illuminate handbag interiors. The line of “leather and nylon” EL handbags, selling in the $250-$400 range, are due to roll out in April in Europe, Asia and Canada. The bags won’t be available in the U.S., but Americans will be able to buy them via Taschen Inc., www.taschen-canada.com in Toronto.

Handbags are just the beginning, though. Already the $350K Mercedes-Benz Maybach offers a luminescent interior dome, and interior designers see great possibilities to create all kinds of interesting new moods with the technology. “Light bulbs owned the last century,” says Robert Kumpf, vice president of business development for Bayer Polymers, www.bayerpolymers.com

“Modern lighting technology will own the next.” Some folks suggest “that clothes that glow could be all the rage.” In the meantime, Alex Bree is pretty excited about his EL handbags. “In less than five years,” he says, “interior light will be just as common in handbags as mobile phones are today.”

[via VirtualR]