Light Work?

May/June 2009

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Light Work?

Mark Matcho

You’ve heard the expression “as easy as flipping a switch.” Well, Peter Russo, MS ’09, and Brendan Wypich, MFA ’09, think turning on the lights should be tougher than that. They’ve created a prototype for a light switch that actually gets harder to move when overall energy use is high. Called the SmartSwitch, it’s designed to receive data from sensors that monitor energy consumption and apply a braking mechanism when a predetermined threshold is reached. The hope is that the physical feedback will make people more mindful of the energy they use and help promote conservation. Russo and Wypich say the same idea could be applied to other energy suckers, like a thermostat, and the system configured to respond to energy use within a household, a neighborhood or even the whole electrical grid.

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