Once a staple of train stations and airports around the world, animated flipboard signs, perpetually updated with arrival and departure times, have slowly been replaced with giant TV screens. Nostalgia’s a powerful marketing tool, however, so there’s now a smart flipboard display designed to fill your home with those soothing sounds of spinning flaps.
The Vestaboard Smart Messaging Display could have easily been created using a high-res LCD display running photo-realistic animations or real-time 3D renders of the flipboard effect. But the display instead does things the old-school way with 132 spinning mechanisms that can each display 64 different characters, including solid colors.
Unlike the pixels that make up a flatscreen that can instantly change color to produce new imagery, each mechanism on this board has to spin until the flaps bearing the requested character are displayed, resulting in both a satisfying visual effect and a unique sound as the Vestaboard is refreshed. Every update is like an ASMR experience, but there’s definitely the potential for the novelty to wear off.
Programming the Vestaboard seems easy enough using either a web-based interface or a smartphone app that delivers commands over wifi to the display. Users can simply design a custom message by hand, or the Vestaboard can be programmed to automatically pull data like weather forecasts or upcoming calendar appointments. There are scheduling capabilities too, as well as the ability to give others remote access to the signage so you could, for example, update your family on your ETA on the way home, bringing the display back full circle as a legitimate Arrivals board.
It’s a lovely creation, but there’s undoubtedly limited appeal for consumers who already have homes packed with smart displays that can provide the same functionality, and so much more. As a result, the Vestaboard Smart Messaging Display is a niche product and its pricing reflects that. The MoMA Design Store is asking for a hefty $2,850 with $189 shipping to get it to your door. You can get a very nice and very large flatscreen TV for that amount of money that doesn’t have 132 spinning mechanisms waiting to perpetually malfunction or break.