At my place of employment the majority of doors between and along the corridors can now be opened with the push of a button. This is a boon for those who are wheelchair bound, pushing a pushchair or catering trolley, or simply have their arms full.

However they are also a source of frustration, especially when encountering someone who hasn’t a clue. Just because a door can be opened with the button, does not mean that it must be opened with the button, or that this is the most efficient and sensible way of operating the door in all cases.

Many of these have only been installed this year. Previously there were a few push button doors along the more busy corridors. As you walk along some of the wider sections of corridor you will approach a set of three doors adjacent to each other. Two of the doors can only be opened manually and one has a push button. It amazes me the number of people who will be walking on one side of the corridor and will veer right over to the other side in order to push the button rather than simply pulling open the door that is in front of them. Sometimes they will even wait for several people to stream through the electrically opened door rather than using one of the manual ones.

Now many more doors are push button. It did not require replacing any doors, simply fitting the existing ones with a robot arm and screwing a couple of touch sensors to the wall that communicate wirelessly with the robot.

 

One of the touch sensitive door opening buttons.

One of the touch sensitive door opening buttons.

Notice the images on the button. A wheel chair and a pushchair. It should be obvious for whom the button is intended, but not to most people. Most physically fit and unencumbered people think that the button is for them. I have seen people approach the door, veer over to touch the button, then stand waiting as the door slowly opens in front of them. JUST PUSH THE STUPID DOOR!!!! The one nearest to my office opens really slowly. You can open it manually, but once the button is pushed and the motor engages it becomes too heavy to push. So to the helpful person who saw me approach the door and hit the button for me as he went past I say “No thank you”.

Apart from a couple of older doors that have “Please don’t open manually” signs on them (but have manual doors next to  them) all these doors can be opened manually, and it is usually far quicker to do so than to wait for the motor to do it for you.

So if you’re walking on two legs and have at least one hand free please don’t push the button. It wastes our electricity, your time, and your muscles which would benefit from the exercise of opening the door themselves rather than expecting a robot to do it for you. Have we got so used to machines doing our bidding that we can’t even open a door by ourselves?

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