If you can’t resist subtly waving your hand in the air like a Jedi when you approach an automatic sliding door, get ready for this: a manually operated touchless sliding door that senses and matches the movements of a hand waving back and forth in front of it.
Created by a Singapore-based design studio called Stuck Design, the Kinetic Touchless 2.0 is another attempt to eliminate the regular physical interactions humans have with door handles that can play a big part in not only spreading dangerous viruses like covid-19, but also seasonal colds and the flu. It’s reminiscent of Tweaq’s Touch 1 self-disinfecting door handle, which wipes itself clean after every touch, but the Kinetic Touchless 2.0 eliminates physical contact altogether.
The upgrade replaces the motion sensors (or weight-sensing pads on the ground) typically used to trigger automatic sliding doors with a small panel on the door itself where a handle would normally be found. The panel itself is packed with sensors but only reacts to the presence of a hand when it’s within a specific proximity, at which point the door can be opened and closed by the user waving their hand from side to side.
It may seem like an unnecessary upgrade given automatic sliding doors can already reliably sense an approaching person and open without requiring them to raise their hands or even break their stride, but that convenience comes with trade-offs. The doors always open all the way no matter who or what is passing through, requiring heating or cooling systems to compensate as warm or cool air endlessly escapes outside, and they can be easily fooled. Just think how many times an automatic door has opened wide while you were just walking past a store.
The Kinetic Touchless 2.0 door system instead works more like a patio door in a house, allowing a user to slide it open only as far as they need, but without making physical contact and without having to manually close it behind them after they’ve passed through. It’s a clever idea, but there are some challenges for its adoption. It would be most useful in high-traffic areas like stores where the touch-free approach is ideal, but requiring every single user to open the door with a hand gesture would probably result in a long line of people waiting to get in behind them—the last thing a store would want. It also introduces challenges for those pushing a shopping cart or a baby stroller who can’t easily reach the sensor. And let’s not forget the aspiring Jedis who will probably be happy to spend hours pretending to wield the Force wherever these end up being installed.