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'Smart' furniture heralds a future with light touch

posted 21 Jan 2013, 09:37 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Jan 2013, 09:37 ]

A collaboration between Spanish engineers, cupboard makers, and electronics manufacturers is offering homeowners a future without manual electric switches. Participants in the Wood Touch project have created various items of wooden furniture which can switch on lighting systems with a single swipe of the hand. Jim Drury has more.

 Innovations - Ivan Arakistain is trying to eliminate light switches.

Arakistain works for Spanish research institute Tecnalia which has developed touch-responsive fittings.

Called 'Wood Touch', the fixtures switch on lights with a gentle swipe of the hand.


"Traditionally you introduce a light switch you need to make a whole in the bed headboard and this distorts the nice picture you get in the shop when you buy it. Thanks to Wood Touch technology the headboard remains intact."

The system uses sensors, LED technology and electroluminescence - a process by which the electric field of one's hand over the sensors triggers the light to illuminate.


"We used different sensors for the application in tables and ordinary furniture where the thickness is not so important. We developed a device which is wired, the sensor is wired to the receiver where you plug or control the devices."

Tecnalia devised the sensors in conjunction with local furniture makers and electronics manufacturers.

The researcher says they could be available commercially within a year and thinks this functional furniture could render switches almost obsolete.

Arikastain believes people are bored with what he calls 'dumb furniture' and hopes Tecnalia's magic touch will deliver a brighter future.