Home automation has come a long way in just the last few years. Amazon Alexa, Google Home, the Nest Learning Thermostat and Vivint Home are just some of the technologies that have made our homes smarter and more efficient places. But while these technologies can accomplish simple tasks like playing music and looking up information on the internet, they can’t physically move things. That’s where actuators come in. Actuators can physically control both large and small items. They can also be triggered a variety of ways including remotes and motion sensors. If you’ve ever wanted your TV to pop out of a console or your chair to automatically recline, then you then you’ll want to learn more about Micro Linear Actuators.
What is an “Actuator” and How does a Linear Actuator work?
An actuator is a motor that moves or controls a mechanism. It can introduce motion as well as prevent it. A robot, for example, would use hundreds of actuators to control every part of its body. A linear actuator moves something in a linear, or straight, motion. This is typically accomplished by extending and retracting a rod on a track.
Mini Actuators for Home Automation
Large actuators are common in commercial and industrial spaces. Commonly found in factories controlling large pieces of equipment, their size and power aren’t practical for home use. But the introduction of smaller linear actuators, such as a 12-volt mini actuator, enable us to trigger automatic movements in smaller home objects like reclining seats or drawers.
Actuators Example: Reclining Seats
Actuators can handle complex movements and be programmed to operate automatically. They can be programmed to respond to a sensor or even a gesture. The smaller size of microactuators means they can be placed almost anywhere in a room.
A great example of how linear actuators can be adapted for home use is with a reclining seat. You can trigger the seat to adjust itself into position with the press of a button or even via a motion sensor when you walk into the room. Installing an actuator for a reclining seat is a simple process. You just need to replace the manual system with an actuator module. Just make sure the movements are precise. Otherwise, you might damage your chair.
Actuators Example: Automatic TV Stand
One thing that has stuck was Jay Leno‘s TV stand on The Tonight Show. When he was interviewing a guest, he would press a button and a TV would automatically pop out from behind his desk. Leno would then play a clip of his guest’s movie or project. It almost always surprised and impressed his guests.
Then years later I stayed at The Signature at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. It was a beautiful room but I couldn’t find the TV. It was hidden! With a press of a button, the TV automatically raised out of a wooden cabinet at the foot of the bed.
But automatic TV stands don’t have to be limited to fancy hotel rooms and TV studios. Using actuator technology, you can create your own automatic TV stand at home. Just be sure to factor in the weight of your TV.
Micro Linear Actuators: Smarter Homes
Actuators have revolutionized “smart homes” and added a level of futuristic physical interactivity never possible before. We’ve all seen actuators in use in the movies before: doors opening, secret walls revealing hidden weapons, spaceship seats reclining automatically.
What about you? Do you have some creative ideas on how to use Micro Linear Actuators? Or maybe some questions? Please tell us about it in the comments.
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Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.