Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 13:27 UK

Show highlights tech contrasts

By Zoe Kleinman
Technology reporter, BBC News

360 degree CCTV around your head.
Some of the technology on display was more practical than others

London's Earls Court is buzzing with over 300 resourceful exhibitors - students, entrepreneurs, inventors and, of course, designers - hoping to make it big in the lucrative market of interior design.

There's a range of technology - old and new - at work to be found among the traditional home comforts.

ELECTRIC INK

Developer Matt Johnson demonstrates the use of ink on skin to conduct electricity

Four graduates from the Royal College of Art have created Bare, a non-toxic, water soluble electricity conducting ink that they hope will have a big impact on interiors.

It is safe for the skin, as they demonstrated by painting lines of it on their arms and lighting up a small LED.

It consists of non-metallic conductive particles suspended in food and cosmetic additives.

At the moment it is only suitable for low current applications but developer Matt Johnson says he hopes that one day it may be used as a form of interactive wallpaper.

"Instead of having wires run to the light switch you could just rub your hand up the ink on the wall and turn the light on," he says.

"Or you could set the level of the light by moving your hand up and down the wall."

Conducting ink is not new but the market place is fairly small and, with plans to retail Bare at £20 a litre, it will significantly undercut some of its more established rivals.

SILICONE GRIP

Jane ni Dhulchaointigh demonstrates her silicone product

Jane ni Dhulchaointigh has spent the last five years refining silicone technology to perfect her product, Sugru.

It's a durable silicone rubber, that, in its early state, resembles fluorescent plasticine. It can be moulded into any shape and left overnight to harden.

She is marketing it as a product that makes handles and grips more comfortable - inspired by a friend who broke her leg.

Her friend used Sugro on the handle of her crutches to make holding them more comfortable, by moulding a grip to fit her own hand.

"There's no other material like this," says Ms ni Dhulchaointigh. "It's a new silicone material that we invented and patented so that everybody could modify and improve things themselves."

A FISHY TALE

Salmon leather in action as a cushion

One exhibitor has turned his back on new technology completely and turned an ancient art from South America into a business plan.

Industrial designer Stiven Kerestegian paid a visit to Patagonia during a holiday in his home country Chile.

He was inspired by local artisans using traditional treatments to make leather from salmon skin - a wasted by-product of the region's salmon export industry.

He has called the result ES leather - sides of salmon skin treated, cleaned and dyed to form strips of durable material.

"The real innovation here is the seaming process - we've come up with an innovative way of seaming all the strips together in order to change the scale of the product," he explains.

"We've spent three and a half years working on this. It's huge for us."



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