Lovin' the bold look of those new Nikes? If you're up to date on the athletic shoe scene, you may notice that sneaker designs can give way long before your soles do. A new decaling technique could enable you to "erase" labels and other artworks overnight without a trace, however, letting you change up your wardrobe without shelling out more cash. A prototype device, called Shader Printer, uses a laser to heat (at 50 degrees Celsius, 120 degrees Fahrenheit) a surface coated with a bi-stable color-changing material. When the laser reaches the "ink," it creates a visible design, that can then be removed by leaving the object in a -10 degree Celsius (14 degree Fahrenheit) freezer overnight. The laser and freezer simply apply standard heat and cold, so you could theoretically add and remove designs using any source.
For the purposes of a SIGGRAPH demo, the team, which includes members from the Japan Science and Technology Agency, Keio University, the University of Tokyo and MIT, used a hair dryer to apply heat to a coated plastic doll in only a few seconds -- that source doesn't exactly offer the precision of a laser, but it works much more quickly. Then, they sprayed the surface with -50-degree Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit) compressed air, which burned off the rather sloppy pattern in a flash. There were much more attractive prints on hand as well, including an iPhone cover and a sneaker with the SIGGRAPH logo, along with a similar plastic doll with clearly defined eyes. We also had a chance to peek at the custom laser rig, which currently takes about 10 minutes to apply a small design, but could be much quicker in the future with a higher-powered laser on board. The hair dryer / canned air combo offers a much more efficient way of demoing the tech, however, as you'll see in our hands-on video after the break.
Shader Printer with heat-sensitive 'paint' hands-on