Gruppo Romani presents the first Smart Tiles

The Italian ceramic group is launching innovative smart ceramic tiles capable of monitoring their own condition and their surroundings and communicating with the latest home automation systems.

Advances in technology and process innovation are shaping the future of home automation. The deployment of active ceramic tiles for monitoring building structures is transforming traditional materials into smart, self-aware components capable of monitoring their own condition and their surroundings.

This breakthrough is spearheaded by Gruppo Romani, a leading Italian ceramic tile manufacturer, with the introduction of its innovative Smart Tiles designed to interface seamlessly with the latest home automation systems. The result of more than four years of research and an investment of around €10 million, the project has received financing from the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) in recognition of its focus on research and sustainable development. The project has been carried out with the contribution of technical partners including Sacmi, Iprel, CNR, Trebax and Studio-IOT.

Gruppo Romani’s idea of transforming ceramic tiles into smart, active components for monitoring building structures points the way to the future of both ventilated facades and raised floors.

A special housing on the reverse side of these ceramic tiles accommodates a microchip with MEMS (micro electromechanical system) sensors capable of sending the recorded data to cloud storage. As well as guaranteeing the technical characteristics specified in standard UNI EN 14411 and the aesthetic quality for which Gruppo Romani is renowned, the sensorised tile allows for integrated monitoring of programmed parameters. For example, in the case of ventilated wall applications the sensors are capable of measuring temperature, humidity, dew point, shock or deformation caused by seismic events. Another kind of sensor installed in floating floors can detect overloads, track human movement, activate perimeter alarms and communicate with the lighting system to activate lights in the event of footfall.

Today we are witnessing the 5.0 revolution,” explains Gruppo Romani Chairman Giorgio Romani. “This invention is driving our group to explore new fields of application for ceramic tiles. To date we have focused primarily on ventilated facades for residential and commercial buildings. The innovative characteristic of transmitting information on the most important structural and environmental parameters can open up interesting possibilities in terms of building safety and represents a valuable and currently unique solution.”

Gruppo Romani has filed two industrial patent applications for its Smart Tiles in Italy and Europe. They will be produced in a 120x120 cm size, on demand and customised to the specific needs of clients.

“For the success of this ambitious project, I would like to thank the two co-inventors, our Industrial Director and project leader Alessandro Berselli, and Marco Bonvino from Studio IOT who developed the microelectronics aspects, and of course all our employees who contributed to all the experimental, prototyping and testing phases,” concludes the group’s CEO Paolo Romani.

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