Printing in the clouds - literally

The mammoth IFA show took place in Berlin during the first week in September. Although the exhibition's name - Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin, or Berlin International Radio Show - shows its 1929 heritage, it's recently become one of the major consumer electronics and appliance shows in the world.

The mammoth IFA show took place in Berlin during the first week in September. Although the exhibition's name - Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin, or Berlin International Radio Show - shows its 1929 heritage, it's recently become one of the major consumer electronics and appliance shows in the world.

It's so big that it's easy to miss stuff, which is why it's taken a while for this rather beautiful YouTube video to pick up traction. It seems to show a printer that produces large foam letters which detach themselves from the device and float off into the heavens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN-mfQsno2g

Wonderful stuff. However, nobody seems to know anything more about it. The people who took the video, who hail from Norwegian broadcaster NRK, say that Epson was using it to promote printers (they say it in Norwegian, mind), and that the foam is filled with helium. Others have speculated that it's hot air.

On close inspection of the video - and the 1080p HD version is worth selecting, as the glittery whiteness is particularly engaging in high definition - it looks less like a printer and more like an extrusion device. A template is bolted over what looks like a matrix through which the foam is presumably pumped, with a bar moving across the printer bed to detach the completed output. It also has the distinct appearance of being a hand-built gadget, which may explain why there's nothing on the Web about it.

So, my best guess is that it was something knocked up in the Epson labs as an experiment, and proved so successful that it was wheeled out as a bit of extra fun for the fair. Whether it has any future as a commercial product is another matter: there'd certainly be a market for it, much as there is for balloons, and it's pleasant to speculate about coloured foam and automatic tracking by lasers (which would look particularly spectacular at night, if one can overcome fears of accidentally pinging passing aircraft).

[UPDATE - I've found out who does them. Not Epson, but two special effects guys from Alabama. The foamy dollops are called Flogos, for Flying Logos, and Flogos.net is where they all live and play. Coloured ones coming soon, apparently]

Anyway, that's all in the future - but it's worth going back right now and watching the video again. ZDNet UK recommends that you do so while also playing the first verse from Brian Eno's opener on his Another Green World album, Sky Saw.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1wFd201Rbw

All the clouds turn to words, all the words float in sequence, no-one knows what they mean, everyone just ignores them...

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