At the recent Coatings 2003 Conference and Trade Show, I attended a seminar entitled “Emerging Technologies” which provided an encapsulated look at ten new or developing technologies for the metal finishing industry (several of which we’ve covered right here in the pages of Products Finishing magazine). While all of the technologies displayed seem to have a lot of potential, the session got me thinking about some of the coating technologies that I’d like to see. For instance…
•I’ve long felt that somebody needs to come up with a reflective coating technology for cars—for the rear of cars, specifically—that will reflect high-beam headlights back at a “perpetrator.” The coating should be formulated to reflect more light back, the closer the high-beams get. In other words, tailgaters beware.
•And speaking of tailgating, how about a “smart” coating that turns red—“warms up,” so to speak—to warn tailgaters that they are getting too close to the car ahead of them? Of course, most tailgaters I’ve encountered seem to know that they are tailgating and don’t really care, so I’m not sure how well this one would go over. I admit that I haven’t quite figured out how this should work for cars that are painted red in the first place.
•Or how about “mood coatings,” automotive finishes that shift in color to match the driver’s mood? Red for when we are feeling aggressive, black for angry, blue for calm, etc. Wouldn’t it be great to know in advance what kind of mood other drivers on the road are in?
•Don’t you hate it when you buy an appliance in a “popular” color only to find that color isn’t so popular a year or two down the road? For some, it’s the reason why they stick to black or white appliances. But for the rest of us, the coating companies should look at developing pigments that—like fine wine—“mature” over the course of time. Perhaps that lime green toaster you bought last year is now more of a wasabi color? Of course—the major technological obstacles aside—such an endeavour would require color trend experts to make some educated guesses about what’s going to be “hot” three and four years down the road.
•Even though its outside of the conventional metal finishing arena, I wonder if any of the paint manufacturers have considered developing “scratch and sniff” coatings for use in the home? Say you’re having some friends over for a Christmas party. Twenty minutes before the festivities, you walk on over to the living room wall, give it a light scratch and savor the gingerbread scent as it is expelled from the paint. (Actually, this idea—as crazy as it sounds—may not be that far out there. Cadillac has developed a scent, dubbed “nuance,” which is now being processed into the leather seats of its vehicle line.)
All joking aside, some of what I’ve suggested here may actually be feasible somewhere down the road (heck, some of it may already be in development). Others, not so much. But either way, it’s always fun to dream about what the future holds in store for coatings technology.