The era of the old-fashioned faucet that turns on and off -- one knob for hot, one for cold -- is gone. Even the basic one-handle faucet is pretty much boring and passe.
Technology is one of the important directions for today's faucets, according to Seth Fritz, lead industrial designer for Delta Faucet, the company that introduced the single-handle faucet in 1954.
Delta started in Greensburg and now is one of the largest faucet manufacturers in the country, with world headquarters on U.S. 31 north of I-465 in Carmel.
Fritz, a Purdue University graduate in industrial design, is taking the company to new high-tech heights. He calls what he does "functional sculpture," and he jokes that he's in "artistic engineering."
"It's critical we understand how a faucet is used, how it's engineered, how it's manufactured," he said.
So Delta has introduced touch technology combined with proximity sensitivity technology. They are quite different from public faucets that have electronic eye sensors. These sense proximity through capacitance, the ability of a body to store an electrical charge.
The new Touch20.xt faucets are not hardwired; they use batteries.
You can turn the faucet on or off with your elbow or wrist or simply a wave. And it has a timeout feature so it won't run water forever.
"It's technology that's unexpected," Fritz said.
The designer says he and the other Delta designers get inspiration from all manner of things -- an amazing wrought-iron fence in Paris, antique hardware in Germany, a seashell.