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By inserting a transparent acrylic sphere into an indentation inlaid with carefully calculated and distributed patterns, the sphere’s color appears to change along with the viewer’s perspective. Jun Fujiki began combining several of these units together to make color-changing three-dimensional objects. By covering a human-shaped figurine with these units, he created a doll that changes colors depending on perspective.
This invention alone was already groundbreaking, but Fujiki wanted to take it a step further by having the modules change color based on the passage of time in addition to the viewing angle. With this idea in mind, he applied for the 2016 INNO-vation Program, where his unique proposal received a warm reception and he was chosen for the Disruptive Challenge.
Fujiki’s trial-and-error process began with a simple question: just how could he make the module’s color change based on the passage of time?
One idea he had was to use a projector to cast colors onto the modules that would then change over time. Though it is possible to change the color of light, it turned out not to be practical for his challenge due to its relatively large scale. Another idea he had was to affix a hemispherical lens onto a flat surface. In that case, the color shown on the lens would change based on what comes from the display. However, the refractive index against the lens had an undesirable effect, displaying too many colors from a single perspective. That being said, Fujiki discovered that keeping a certain distance between the lens and the display created much more desirable results.
Fujiki recalled that whenever he had an idea, he would make a prototype to test it out. If it didn’t work, he would come up with another idea and make another prototype. He repeated this process for a while. “It was getting harder for me to come up with new ideas, and I felt like I had reached an impasse,” Fujiki recounted.
His big breakthrough finally came to him when he had the idea to drill holes inside of the indentations. By drilling several holes in each indentation and placing LEDs beneath them, the light from the LEDs shines through the holes and the indentation itself turns into a makeshift display. As the color of the LEDs change, so does the color of the acrylic sphere placed inside the indentation. Leaving some space between the LEDs and the indentations was a discovery Fujiki had made when fiddling with the displays.
“The idea was fundamentally sound, but there were still a few loose ends that needed to be tied up before it could be put to practice,” Fujiki recalled. “I wasn’t familiar enough with electronics engineering so I could only use really simple electronic circuits in the design, which led to the modules themselves becoming larger in scale. I wasn’t able to make the idea into a reality during my time in the INNO-vation Program, but I felt that if I had someone who was more familiar in that area to collaborate with, we would be able to produce significant results.”
In part 3, we’ll ask Fujiki about his developments after the INNO-vation Program.
Part 2 coming May 30th, 2022