Unique Touch Panel Design Redefines Light Switch

Just inside the door of your new home there is probably a wall plate with about a zillion toggle switches, but you can never remember which one turns off the yard light and turns the hallway light on. After a long day of work, on a gloomy winter evening, trying all the switches to get it right can leave you ready to go postal.

Industrial designers know how frustrating this can be, so designer Chih Ching Yang came up with a clever and highly intuitive solution: use size and shape to inform users which switch it is they want to flip next. For example, if you want to turn the yard light off, that is the area in the upper right (or left) corner. To turn living room lights on in what might be the largest room in a house, choose the largest surface of the switch.

Origami touch switches

Image via Chih Ching Yang

The design is called Origami, from the Japanese name for decorative paper folding (think of the character Gaff in the movie “Blade Runner.”) Not only does it help people instinctively flip the right switch by providing a visual clue, but it saves electricity since no one is desperately flipping switches on and off to get the right combination – though with the Origami, it is a a pressure-sensitive surface, which is actually a case of pressing rather than flipping.

Origami’s design is modern and blends well with any décor, with an easy-clean glass surface. More importantly, Origami’s surface plate conceals a touch sensor which can be used to turn electronics off, or on. For example, you’re flying out the door late to a meeting and the TV is on. You probably won’t charge back across the living room to shut it off – too late, too late, and the meeting won’t wait – but if controls were hidden behind the touch panel for the lights, you would. Problem solved, energy saved, and it’s even easier to use than the Monster Green PowerCenter apparatus we wrote about in March!

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