When Were Automatic Doors Invented?

Published on
December 25, 2020 4:46:00 AM PST December 25, 2020 4:46:00 AM PSTth, December 25, 2020 4:46:00 AM PST

Automatic doors are an element of modern-day life that you most likely take for granted. You use them to get in and out of the office. When you visit the local store for your weekly grocery shop, and your kids probably use them to get in and out of school.


However, have you ever stopped to think about when they were first made available? You may be surprised to hear that the concept of automatic doors first originated in ancient Greece. Yes, that far back in time!


Let’s dig a little deeper into the history of automatic doors . . .


The Early Days of Automatic Doors

The Greek mathematician, Heron of Alexandra, first invented an automatic door system, although not like the ones you know today, using a series of ropes and pulleys. Instead of electricity, these automatic doors were powered using water that was heated by fire and pumped into containers which in turn, activated the opening system.


A foot sensor-activated automatic door was constructed in China in the 17th century, according to historian Joseph Needham in his 1986 book, Science and Civilization in China. Emperor Yang Sui used this invention in his royal library.


Automatic Doors as a Commercial Product

The starting point of commercial automatic doors began in 1931 when two American engineers designed the first optical device to open an automatic door. This revolutionary invention was installed in Wilcox’s Pier Restaurant to help waiters carry plates and glasses.


Then, over 20 years later, two other Americans, Dee Horton and Lew Hewitt, invented the first automatic doors which were operated by mat actuators. These worked by automatically opening the door when someone stood on the mat. These automatics doors became increasingly popular in the 1960s and could be found in large banks, hotels and shopping centers.


Commercial Automatic Doors Using Motions Sensors

During the next decade, motion sensors were invented and used to operate automatic doors. This innovation caused automatic doors to become even more popular worldwide and were used to provide disabled access to buildings.


In the 1980s, automatic revolving doors were released, and by the time the 90s came, automatic folding doors were invented, and active infrared sensors became the customary activation method for enhanced safety.


Smart Technology

Today, automatic doors are more technologically advanced than ever before with accessible doors that can be opened and closed using a hand wave sensor, motion sensor, microwave sensor or pressure mat. These innovative smart technologies can be used to automate sliding doors including patio doors, pocket doors, barn doors, closet doors and pantry doors. Plus, they have been weatherproofed so can be placed in and outside of your home.


With more and more households now wanting to have a fully automated smart home, both for enhanced convenience and to add value to their property, fully automated door systems and automatic doors throughout the home will soon become standard practice.


What is the Future for Automatic Doors?

Who knows, but with the global automatic door market size set to reach $41,745.0 million by 2026, it can only get bigger and better. Watch this space!