Skip to Content

MASTERSWITCH: Wireless, energy-harvesting pull-switch for any electrical device

Bruce M. Tharp

Historically a butler pull was rope attached to a bell that was used by wealthy homeowners to summon their servants. While humans were once the domestic servants, today electrical devices wash our clothes, dry our clothes, chop our vegetables, play us music, and cook our food. Invoking arguments over certain contradictions in the acquisition and maintenance of modern “labor-saving devices,” MasterSwitch alters and questions the control and interactions between humans and machines.

Using piezoelectric technology, energy is harvested when pulling down on the tassel; this generates all the power needed to send a radio frequency signal the wall outlet into which the appliance is plugged—no batteries needed. Switching everyday appliances on and off now becomes a more resplendent act and better reflects our (supposed) mastership over our electrical domestic 'servants'.