Eco-Friendly Glowing Wallpaper Could Replace Light Bulbs

A new high-tech, low-energy glowing wallpaper could replace the need for light bulbs.

So you want to save money on your electric bill and help Mother Earth, but you’re not so wild about those pricey and constantly flickering florescent LED bulbs? Soon, there’ll be another option: ditch your light bulbs altogether and coat your rooms with a low-energy wallpaper that lights the room.

If it sounds like a recipe for constant electric shocks, don’t worry: the voltage is low enough that you won’t feel a thing if you happen to lean against the wall. Unlike the glare of most light bulbs, the wallpaper’s light is soft, and mimics sunlight. You’ll be able to use a dimmer switch to control how bright you want the room, just as you can with traditional bulbs.

A UK company called Lomox has received a $720,000 grant from the Carbon Trust to develop the new technology and get it ready for the general public. According to estimates, the technology should be available in the UK as early as 2012.

The special coating, which can also be painted onto walls or incorporated into roll-up screens, is two and a half times as energy-efficient as LED lights, and will be extremely budget friendly. Because the wallpaper only requires three to five volts, it can be powered by solar cells. Thanks to its portability, the system could also be used to illuminate signs and important notices in areas without power lines.

This technology seems enticing, but if it takes off, there’s one problem: What will replace all those “How many ___s does it take to change a lightbulb” jokes?