Performing common household tasks such as turning on a lamp for instance, are often taken for granted. However, for individuals with mobility limitations, a task like operating a floor switch proves to be nothing short of a challenge.
Heleen Bartsoen, uses a wheelchair to get around and was unable to operate the floor switch for the lamp in her bedroom; her service dog, Gyproc, was also unable to perform this task. The lamp’s switch is designed with a push button that sits on the floor, making it difficult to reach and press successfully.
Four industrial design students from the University of Ghent in Belgium, Germany researched ways to develop a solution: a switch that can be operated by a dog’s nose, as well as Bartsoen independently. They sought ways to modify the switch without any rewiring or alterations to the cord or lamp.
The students went through several prototypes before settling on the final design, one with a weighted base and long lever. A primary challenge the students faced in the design involved working with the service dog’s gentleness. Gyproc couldn’t operate the original floor switch
due to not wanting to place enough pressure on the switch to activate it. The students discovered that by creating the long lever and weighted base for the switch, they were able to tackle this issue.
It is crafted using wood components cut out with a FabLab laser-cutting machine, and its wood construction is attractive and could fit in with pretty much any IKEA-style decor. Now both Bartsoen and her service dog are able to operate her floor lamp.
The final product is one that could work for many individuals with physical limitations. The design for the device, including downloadable files for a laser cutter, is available now on Instructables website.