Forever 21 shows Instagram on giant screen made of thread

What would be the best way to display Instagram posts to a large crowd? Your immediate and of course logically expected answer would be a large LCD screen or something like it. Fashion retailer Forever 21 naturally won't settle for something so plain, so conventional, so boring. Hiring the expertise of rapid product company BREAKFAST, Forever 21 setup what could be the world's first, and probably last, giant screeen that uses not LCDs or even LEDs to show content. It uses nothing than colorful threads for that same purpose.

2,000 lbs (900 kg). 200,000 total parts, 8 times more than your car. 6.7 miles of threaded fabric, enough to cross the Brooklyn Bridge not once but 6 times. And 6,400 spools that could surpass the London Eye if stacked on top of each other. Those are just the bare stats that are impressive in themselves, but not as impressive as the insanity of the machine that puts them all together.

Each spool holds a piece of fabric 5.5 feet long, rolled over it like a conveyor belt instead of a regular spool of thread. And unlike a regular spool, that fabric isn't made up of just one color but holds 36 colors, each 1 3/4 in length. When an Instagram post uses the #F21ThreadScreen hashtag, the machine first resizes the attached photo to an 80x80 resolution. Why? Because those 6,400 spools are arranged in an 80x80 grid. The machine then rolls the thread of those spools to show the matching color of the image, in effect like setting the pixels of that 80x80 grid to that hue. And in case you're wondering, each ribbon has a magnetic strip that can be scanned by an IR sensor which tells the machine what color is being displayed at the moment, in case it made a mistake.

It was definitely no small undertaking to conceptualize, design, and produce such a machine, which perhaps testifies to BREAKFAST's chops. It also seems overkill for a marketing stint that will only last for a few days and probably never again. But, that's how marketing works. And no one will probably deny the beauty of its novelty. As part of Forever 21's back-to-school Tried and True campaign, the Thread Screen will be displaying properly hashtagged Instagram posts 24/7 from July 22 to 28 and the machine's screen will be streamed online on those dates as well. What happens to the Thread Screen machine after that is anyone's guess.