Scientists are working on a wall décor that brings both fashion and function into homes.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated April 11, 2018
Living room with orange tree patterned wallpaper
Credit: LOOK Photography/Getty Images

The homes of the future (and even some tech-savvy homes today) will have all kinds of smart tools making life easier—think thermostats, lights, outlets, TVs, window shades, showers, and more. Scientists, researchers, and engineers are working around the clock to develop the newest, smartest home tech, such as the fire alarm wallpaper coming out of the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In research published in ACS Nano, from the American Chemical Society, a team of China-based scientists and researchers writes about a multi-function wallpaper that can both detect fires and resist flames.

The wallpaper was prepared using fire-resistant inorganic paper with specialized nanowires and heat-sensitive sensors. When the wallpaper is exposed to high heat, the sensors in it are able to conduct electricity, setting off an alarm light and buzzer to alert people in the home and necessary authorities. The sensors can become activated when temperatures reach 260 degrees Fahrenheit (126.9 degrees Celsius), respond within 2 seconds, and continue to work for at least five minutes even when aflame.

The wallpaper itself is also much less flammable than what the report calls “combustible commercial wallpaper,” meaning a fire would likely spread more slowly. “A smart fire-resistant and fire alarm wallpaper will be very desirable if it can simultaneously prevent the fire from spreading and send out alerts in a fire disaster,” the research says.

And, fortunately, the smart fire alarm wallpaper can be made into different shapes, dyed with different colors, and printed with attractive patterns, making it a functional and fashionable addition to any home.

Research is still in the early stages, so it may be a while before you can bring fire alarm wallpaper into your home—but, once you can, wouldn’t it be nice to add some color that also makes your home safer?