14.09.2018 change 14.09.2018

Scientists from the University of Silesia patented a touch switch

Source: University of Silesia Source: University of Silesia

Scientists from the University of Silesia in Katowice designed a touch switch for operating various electrical devices in so-called smart buildings. By the decision of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland, the device is been protected by a utility model.

Four small panels will allow users to open or close a door or gate, turn on, turn off or change the intensity of light, set the room temperature, lower or raise electric blinds, and even operate a screen with a projector. The touch switch can be used in both smart homes and public buildings equipped with advanced technological solutions.

"There are many similar intelligent automation components on the market, but we wanted the device to not only occupy a small area on the wall, but also be easy to use" - says Dr. Grzegorz Sapota from the Institute of Computer Science of the University of Silesia, co-author of the utility model.

The newly designed component has the dimensions of a classic light switch and can control virtually any electrical home or office equipment connected to the integrated system. It can be used to operate such devices as entry gates, doors, air conditioners, fireplaces, lighting, audio-visual equipment, blinds, displays, sprinklers or cameras. The ease of using the switch also results from the fact that the user does not have to remember which panel supports the selected device. The switch has four touch areas with various backlit icons that represent the functions available at the moment.

The solution also has additional functionality that allows it to learn the habits of users. After some time, the switch will first display the icons symbolizing those operations that the occupant of the house performs most often in a given room. Importantly, each of the switches located in other rooms remembers the users` behaviour independently. If users change their preferences, after some time the order of the frequently used functions will also be updated. Thus configured, the switch will also allow to check whether individual elements of the equipment are: on or off, open or closed, available or inaccessible.

"On top of that, each switch can be configured manually and independently of the other switches, for example the panel in the child`s room can b configured to have no access to the entrance gate, entrance door or the TV set in the guest room" - says Dr. Sapota.

If a new device that can be controlled with the switch is installed in the building, all you have to do is connect it to the building management system. There is no need to expand existing switches or install new panels. The corresponding graphics along with the control functions will simply appear in the list of supported devices. In addition, the panel can be controlled by voice, remote control or a smartphone app. According to the scientist, this type of switch requires the installation of a controller for the entire object, which can be either one of the solutions available on the market, or the proprietary system designed by IT specialists from the University of Silesia.

The authors of the protected utility model are: Dr. Grzegorz Sapota from the Department of Computerized Biomedical Systems of the Faculty of Computer Science and Materials Science of the University of Silesia, and the director of the Institute of Computer Science of the University of Silesia Prof. Zygmunt Wróbel.

PAP - Science in Poland, Anna Gumułka

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