How the Clapper Functions

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Clap-on! Clap-off!

In the 1980s, the Clapper was mocked by comedians and its “clap-on, clap-off” ad became famous. However, the product was a hit with both seniors and couch potatoes alike. The Clapper, which debuted in 1985, permits users to turn on up to two appliances using claps. For example, two claps can activate a lamp, and three claps can switch on a TV. The Clapper is compatible with lights, radios, TVs, and anything that plugs into one of its two electrical outlets. For only $20, this simple electronic device rendered the manual light switch obsolete and became a staple of American pop culture.

The Clapper was created because remote controls were not convenient enough. While they allowed people to turn on appliances without getting up, individuals still had to locate the remote control. Today, the Clapper is more commonly sold at garage sales than in stores, but it remains a popular product. Tens of thousands of units are still sold each year. The Clapper is manufactured by the makers of the Chia Pet and the Ove Glove, which are based in San Francisco. The device can still be found on store shelves between October and December, and is available online year-round.

This article will explore the origins of the Clapper, its future, and how to properly use it. But, first, we will examine how the device uses applause to turn things on.


Mechanics of the Clapper

The inner workings of the Clapper

From an electronic standpoint, the Clapper is not very complex. Sound-activated toys have existed since the 1950s. However, the Clapper stands out because it can differentiate between various sounds using only a few dollars’ worth of electronics. Opening a standard Clapper reveals a microphone, an electronic sound filter, and two electrical switches.

The microphone, situated at the front of the device, is always tuned in to the surrounding environment. The microphone receives every sound that hits the Clapper, converts it into an electrical signal, and sends it to the electronic sound filter.

The filter’s task is to identify which of the sounds are claps. It accomplishes this by recognizing sounds within a certain frequency range (hand claps typically fall between 2200 and 2800 hertz) and ignoring everything else.

The Clapper is a device that can be used to control electrical outlets, such as those used for TVs, radios, and lamps. When the microphone detects a clap, the sound filter sends a signal to one of two electrical switches that activate the outlets. Each switch is programmed to turn on only if it receives a certain number of signals from the filter. Two signals activate the first switch, and three signals activate the second switch. To turn off an outlet, simply repeat the clapping process. However, the Clapper can be finicky and requires proper timing and volume. The device has three “clap detection” lights to help the user. If claps are rejected as noise, the Clapper automatically reduces its sound sensitivity or can be manually adjusted using a dial. In cases where clapping is not possible, the Clapper recommends using a handheld metal device or yelling in a Clapper-friendly cadence.

The Clapper has a feature that can be used as a basic burglar alarm. By flipping a switch, it can be set to “HOME” or “AWAY” mode. In “HOME” mode, it functions normally, but in “AWAY” mode, both plugs will turn off even at the slightest noise. The goal is to startle the burglar and make them leave. This method is particularly effective if the television is playing a Clapper commercial.

The Clapper was created in response to the noisy environment of the modern world. However, it can be triggered by any loud, rhythmic noise, including barking dogs and loud music. The “AWAY” function can also be problematic because household sounds can cause confusion with the on-and-off appliances. It is recommended not to plug heat-generating appliances into the device to avoid any accidental fire hazards.

The Clapper’s predecessor was created by two Canadian inventors in a Toronto workshop. Joseph Pedott, the founder of Joseph Enterprises Inc., was presented with the prototype. Despite the defective product, Pedott refused to give up on the clap-activated switch concept and hired engineers to redesign the device. A few years later, a functioning Clapper was released, and it became part of American kitsch history.

In today’s era of voice- or motion-activated technology, the Clapper’s clap-on, clap-off technology is no longer as impressive.

The Clapper is not compatible with most modern electronic devices as they are switched on by computer-controlled activation, unlike older televisions which could be turned on simply by plugging them in. The Clapper’s ability to turn devices on and off with just a clap is outdated and it also doesn’t work with fluorescent light bulbs. However, the makers of the Clapper have tried to keep up with the times by releasing newer versions like the Clapper Plus, which comes with a remote control that uses radio waves to allow it to pass through walls or windows. Users can also “train” the device to respond to individualized clap sequences. Despite newer technology like thought-controlled appliances, the Clapper’s novelty still has a future, as seen in an iPhone app that allows users to turn their phone into a clap-activated bedside lamp. The manual light switch may be outdated, but its simplicity has kept it a top seller, just like the Clapper, which has been called kitschy and tacky but is still here to stay.


1. What is The Clapper?

The Clapper is a sound-activated switch that allows you to turn on or off any electrical device by simply clapping your hands. It can be used for lamps, fans, TVs, and other small appliances. The device plugs into an electrical outlet and has two outlets for plugging in your devices.

2. How does The Clapper work?

The Clapper uses a built-in microphone to detect the sound of your claps. When it hears two claps in a row, it sends a signal to the electrical outlet to turn on or off the device that is plugged in. The Clapper has two sensitivity settings, so you can adjust the level of sound needed to activate it.

3. Can The Clapper work with any type of light bulb?

The Clapper works with most types of light bulbs, including incandescent, fluorescent, and LED bulbs. However, it may not work with some energy-saving bulbs that require a lower wattage. It is important to check the specifications of your light bulbs before using The Clapper with them.

4. Is it safe to use The Clapper?

Yes, The Clapper is safe to use as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It is important to use it only with devices that are compatible with it and to avoid overloading your electrical circuits. You should also keep The Clapper away from water and other liquids.

5. Can The Clapper be used in a noisy environment?

The Clapper may not work well in noisy environments where there is a lot of background noise. However, you can adjust the sensitivity settings to try to get it to work better. It is also important to place The Clapper away from sources of loud noise, such as TVs or speakers, to avoid interference with the microphone.

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