A Finnish startup designed a wall heater that is thin metal mesh, and hidden inside what looks like an ordinary piece of laminate. But it can heat a room within seconds.

It looks like an ordinary piece of laminate—the same thin layer of wood that you’d find on a dresser or desk or flooring. But hidden inside a new prototype is a paper-thin metal mesh that can turn your furniture or walls into an energy-efficient radiant heater.

The Warming Surfaces Company, the Finnish startup that designed the heating tech, called Halia, spun out of research at Finland’s VTT, a government-owned R&D center. Engineers at VTT have worked on flexible printed electronics for more than two decades. A few years ago, the Finnish military approached the researchers asking for help making military decoys that used heat—by warming up large surfaces, attackers could be fooled into thinking they were looking at a tank or other equipment at night. But as the team worked on the design, they realized it also would be useful for heating homes or offices.

“We started fitting this into furniture and interior surface materials and saw, wow, there’s potential here,” says Jani-Mikael Kuusisto, cofounder of the startup, which launched last fall.

Because the low-voltage heating elements are less than one millimeter (or 1/25th of an inch) thick, they can be embedded in almost any material, including fabric. And because they sit near the surface over large areas, they can heat a space almost instantly. (Each heat “pixel” connects to a central processing unit, which connects to the grid or a battery to run on electric power.) If they’re connected to sensors—either embedded in the material or via a standard home automation system where you can program your preferred temperatures—the heat can come on only when it’s needed.

Read more at Fast Company.

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