On display at the Cooper Hewitt back in 2003, Smartwrap is a thin plastic film designed to envelop a building, acting as a multi-tasking, intelligent wall. Smartwrap integrates the currently segregated functions of a conventional wall and combines them into one crazy high-tech composite. It insulates, stores energy, and digitally regulates temperature, as well as providing and controlling light. Users can program different panels to light up, display an image, or switch from transparent to opaque as needed.

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Smartwrap has been heralded to revolutionize the building industry. Because the material incorporates all of the functionality of a regular wall (insulation, protection, electricity, windows) but is compressed into a material only a couple millimeters thick, it has the potential to completely change the way people build. It is lightweight, can be transported and installed very quickly, and therefore could prove could useful for building in developing countries and areas devastated by natural disasters. To top that all off, it is also infinitely reusable.

Although high-tech materials like Smartwrap have barely made a dent in the building industry thus far – signs are showing that this is about to change. Smartwrap is clearly a material of the future, and it is only a matter of time before the building industry catches on.