Technology that responds to simple human touch has changed much of our daily lives. One of the newest places you can experience the ease of touch technology? The kitchen sink. The new Pilar® with Touch20™ Technology faucet uses touch sensors so that you can turn the faucet on and off with a mere flick of the fingers.
Seem like magic? Actually, the Pilar® with Touch20™ Technology takes advantage of human biology. Every person has something called capacitance, which stores electrical energy. Essentially, it’s the reason why we get a shock when we touch something metallic after shuffling barefoot across the carpet. When we walk across the carpet, energy is generated and then stored in the body’s capacitance. This energy is discharged when we touch another object at a different voltage.
The Touch20™ faucet employs two invisible capacitive touch sensors, one in the handle and one in the spout. The sensors measure the baseline level of capacitance in your kitchen, laundry room, or wherever the faucet may be installed. When you touch the handle or the spout, the sensors detect the difference in capacitance and do the work for you, turning the water flow either on or off.
Because the spout of the faucet spins nearly 180 degrees to reach all areas of the sink, and because the handle is used to adjust water temperature, the sensors also need to be able to tell the difference between a touch meant to turn the water on or off, and a longer touch, or “grab,” meant only to rotate the spout or make the water hotter or colder. The folks at Delta haven’t overlooked this detail, designing the touch sensors so that they distinguish between the two motions. A touch (to turn water on or off) is defined as being less than 300 milliseconds, while a grab is longer than 300 milliseconds. The touch sensor will measure the amount of contact time and only turn water on or off if it is a touch.
To maximize the amount of faucet area that will respond to touch, the handle and spout are both made of brass or zinc, which are conductive. The metal will conduct the electrical energy over the entire surface area, meaning you don’t have to be precise in your contact with the faucet. The only places that won’t respond to your touch are at the base of the spout, where a black plastic insulating ring isolates the spout from the sink, and the pull down wand, which detaches from the end of the spout.
And remember, those sensors aren’t picky, so if you have soapy or dirty hands, you can use your wrist, forearm, or even forehead to turn the water on or off. Unfortunately, until Delta invents a sink genie, you’ll still have to wash the dishes the old-fashioned way: with your hands.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.