Remember when all you could do with a phone was make calls, and all you could do with paint was watch it dry?
What Steve Jobs and the team at Apple did for phones, Mike Clowes and the dozens of chemists he manages at Resene are doing for paint right here in New Zealand.
I know what you're thinking: "That's ridiculous! Paint doesn't do anything but look nice. You can't swipe right on paint." But you'd be wrong.
Viewers of The Block NZ: Firehouse saw winning contestants Lisa and Ribz use Resene's SmartTouch paint in their master bedroom. The lucky buyer of their renovated apartment can turn the lights on and off without having to flick a switch.
"We've got a conductive coating that sets up an electrical field," Clowes told Newshub. "That's connected to some very smart electronics, which picks up the touch sensitivity."
Resene teamed up with Beta Solutions in Palmerston North to develop SmartTouch. You apply it under your final coloured coats, so it seamlessly blends in with the rest of the walls. And it can do more than just flick lights on and off.
"You can have a two-touch pattern or a three-touch pattern - or gestures as they're called - and that's able to distinguish those and set off a light or whatever else in your room that you wish to tie it into."
In the future, Clowes says it might even work like a security sensor or a Kinect gaming console - you'll just have to be near it to make it work.
It might only be a matter of time before we're able to charge our phones just by leaning them up against the wall.
"That's probably a little bit far away just yet," laughed Clowes, but didn't rule it out. You see, paint absorbs energy from the sun - but sometimes a little too much. While they haven't yet figured out how to repurpose that energy for our phones, Resene's team has come up with paint that's able to reflect it back into space - it's called CoolColour.
Dark colours - as anyone who's been stuck in a summer traffic jam in a black car knows - absorb heat. Not only are they sucking in every colour in the visible spectrum, they're also hungry for infra-red energy - which makes up about half of what the sun puts out.
"That's where the heat comes from," said Clowes. "If you look around in nature, there are plants with certain pigments in them which help reflect that infra-red."
His team borrowed a bit from nature, and a bit from the ceramics industry - where extreme heat-resistant pigments are a necessity - to make CoolColour paint, which can reflect back four or five times the amount of heat as normal paint.
It's not just for our comfort too - heat can cause building materials to warp, which is bad for obvious reasons, and paint that stays cool lasts longer too.
"Most paints now would last five to eight years - we're trying to double that," said Clowes, adding that Resene is always looking at ways to lower the environmental impact of its products.
Stroke of genius
Once you're done watching the paint dry, wouldn't it be great if you could have fun with it? Again, Resene's got something for you - how about finishing off your SmartTouch wall with some Resene FX Nightlight glow-in-the-dark paint?
"There's no reason you couldn't have glow-in-the dark light switches," laughed Clowes, "as long as you don't need them after three or four hours."
Chuck some Resene Magnetic Magic under Resene Write-on Wall paint, which works like a coloured whiteboard, and you'll have the kids occupied for hours - it might even get them off their iDevices. It certainly works at Resene HQ.
"You could walk around most of this building here - finance and IT - and be amazed at how much writing is all over the walls."
So just like you upgrade your phone, think about upgrading your paint next time you DIY.
Click here for more creative and technologically innovative ideas from Resene.
This article is created for Resene