Since 9/11, the ability to track where people are in the workplace in emergencies and to guide them out has edged nearer to becoming a legal requirement of UK firms. And architects and planners have become more concerned about building structures. A new braided material may help solve all these safety-related problems in one go.
Munich-based chipmaker Infineon Technologies has woven together sensors, fine conductive threads, water-and heat-resistant chips, and LEDs to form a base layer for carpets that register footfall, and light up escape routes.
Carpets can be cut to size without their intelligence being impaired. A prototype could be ready next year.
The sensor network could also be embedded in concrete to give building inspectors early warning of defects.