How the Clapper Works

How to Use the Clapper

The Clapper is a notoriously finicky device. Clap too softly or clap too rapidly, and you might find yourself suddenly plunged into darkness when you meant to turn off the TV. It takes a while to get used to it, but after a brief meeting with your new Clapper, you can easily master the art of clapping.

"You don't have to clap very hard," assures the Clapper instruction booklet. The most important part of setting off your Clapper isn't volume, but getting the timing right. Each clap needs to be followed by a half-second-long pause, which allows the device to properly register the separate claps. Pausing after your last clap is particularly important, since the device needs to be sure you're not going to clap again. Clapping twice, therefore, would look something like this: "clap" (half second pause) "clap" (one and a half second pause).

To help you along, the Clapper has a set of three "clap detection" lights. Whenever a clap is heard, a light glows. Claps that are too soft or too fast will be rejected by the Clapper -- and the light will fail to glow.

If, for some reason, your claps keep getting rejected as noise, the Clapper will automatically reduce its sound sensitivity. In those cases, you'll simply need to clap louder. You can also manually adjust the sensitivity, using a dial on the side of the device.

Of course, not everybody can clap, and this can present a problem -- especially given that elderly and disabled people compose a significant segment of the Clapper's target market. In those cases, the Clapper recommends using a "cricket" -- a handheld metal device that, when squeezed, emits loud clicking sounds. In a pinch, the Clapper can also be activated by yelling words in a Clapper-friendly cadence.

The Clapper can even be used as a rudimentary burglar alarm. A switch on the device allows it to be put in either a "HOME" or "AWAY" setting. When set to "HOME," the device functions normally. When toggled to "AWAY," the Clapper becomes ultra sensitive. In "AWAY" mode, both plugs on the Clapper are set to go off at even the slightest noise. The idea is that a burglar will break in, accidentally turn on the lights or TV and be startled out of the house. This system is particularly effective if the switched-on TV happens to be tuned to a Clapper commercial.

So how did the Clapper get its start?