It’s like pushing a button with the Force.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic made all public surfaces gross by default, there were no shortage of hang-ups about rubbing your fingers all over something a thousand other people have touched. I have definitely heard at least one person complain about gross elevator buttons in my lifetime, for example, and depending on where the elevator is located, that may be a slightly more valid concern. But how you can operate an elevator without pushing a button? Well, turns out you can push a button without actually pushing it.
Stuck Design, a creative technology studio based out of Singapore, have developed a touch-free button system known as “Kinetic Touchless,” designed to give you that same tactile pleasure of pushing an elevator button without actually having to put your finger on it. Using a sensor array, they were able to create a button that can detect the presence of a finger. When the finger moves closer, a small hydraulic pump hooked up to the sensor automatically pulls the button back, then pushes it out when you pull your finger away, presenting a fun little light show in the process. It’s just like a regular button, except you’re not physically touching it, though in spite of that, the addition of the lights make it just as pleasantly tactile as the regular deal.
“By going beyond the expected feedback of light and sound, Kinetic Touchless provides a surprisingly delightful and yet newly familiar way to interact with contactless technology,” the studio explained.
— Engadget (@engadget) January 22, 2021
Obviously, this is just a prototype, so you can’t find it in any elevators yet, but the technology is definitely there, and fairly easy to implement. Aside from cool Force-powered elevators, Stuck Design is workshopping some other uses for this tech, such as switchboards that can be operated quickly with a few flicks of the wrist.