22nd May 2007

Smart Elevators

Technology is impacting almost every sphere of our lives. With this being the case can elevators be left far behind? Most of us would have endured the frustration of waiting for a long time for an elevator in several high-rise buildings. Added to this comes the irritation of being sandwiched between a crowd, packed tightly before enduring multiple stops and then reaching our destination. In fact in frustration we quite often think of taking to the steps instead.
Thanks to the advent of latest technologies, you now days have elevators known as ‘destination elevators’ which have already made their debut in many buildings. They work on a computer-dispatched system. These elevators do not have up or down buttons. Instead all you need to do is to key in the floors you want to go. Passengers are then assigned specific cars, which then carries them to their specific floors, with virtually no or few stops along the way. Although they cost around $4-$5 millions, they are increasingly becoming popular with people. No wonder many buildings are opting for such elevators.

These destination elevators take passengers almost directly to their desired floors without any fuss literally. Elevators such as these go a long way in reducing some common complaints like waiting for a long time waiting for elevator cars to arrive and also of reaching a particular floor after boarding an elevator car. These hi-tech elevators can be compared to taking a ride in a taxi rather than using public transport facilities such as a bus or a train.

The entire technology behind these hi-tech elevators lies in utilizing artificial intelligence coupled with complex computer algorithms, which actually enables grouping of passengers by their destination or floors in this context. The system also enables minimizing the number of stops that a car makes. The complex computer programming involved is so advanced that it actually monitors traffic pattern. This pattern can be used then to predict peak usage and respond according to specific needs in the future.

The system is already gradually replacing the old elevators in a big way in several cities around the world. Schindler Elevator Corp is credited with developing the destination system. The company claims to have already installed 3,000 units around the world. Needless to say the number is still growing.

Another global giant Otis Elevator Co. has also installed such destination systems around the world. Property owners too are responsible for the increase in the demand for such destination systems. With real estate companies engaged in cut throat competition , property owners are wooing clients with such destination systems which enable ‘intelligent buildings’ as they are known these days. The system involves certain changes from the old style of calling an elevator. You now need to key in the floor you want to head for on a telephone-style keypads which is present as part of lobby kiosks. Information on the computer screen would then direct you to your specific elevator car, even before the car arrives. Such is the advanced technology involved. The cars too have undergone some changes from the conventional ones. There are a lot fewer buttons, excepting the ones for emergency, opening and closing of the doors.

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