Objects today, especially those with high tech content, are experienced increasingly by touch and often with a simple brush of the finger. The term ‘touch design’ aptly describes many of today’s interfaces between user and object.

Sophisticated touch control technology has been used to give the simple act of turning a device on and off a whole new feel, replacing, for instance, conventional light switches and dimmers. Gone is the old click of a switch, and some of today’s latest table and room lights are operated and regulated by simply brushing the fingertips against an interface.

Pioneers in this new technology are Luceplan designers such as Alberto Meda, who has been experimenting for years with lamps in which the switch is no longer fixed to a wire and are controlled rather by interacting with the object itself (such as the On Off lamp from 1988, which the user simply moved to switch on and off).

This research progressed to produce the wand-shaped sensor dimmer on the Costanza light by Paolo Rizzatto and Ross Lovegrove’s Agaricon light, where a ring on the body of the lamp acts as a touch operated interface.

These solutions have since been adopted in other products, and the manufacturer Elica, for example, began using a similar patented system called Magic Wand on a number of its kitchen hoods a few years ago.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 170

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