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Technology Allows Elevator Passengers to See Outside

LiftEyeRiding an elevator usually involves going to a space at a building’s interior and entering a cab, where passengers can lose a sense of perspective and not know where they are in relation to their surroundings. LiftEye, UK-based startup founded by a Russian elevator executive, has developed technology that allows elevator passengers to see a panoramic view of what is happening outside the building. The company’s goal is to provide architects with a tool to keep people oriented as they ride in elevators.

The technology is based on computer vision, a process that converts two images into a three-dimensional model, similar to the way in which people create a single panoramic image with their two eyes. Several cameras must be placed vertically along the building’s façade, or on a neighboring building, and a sensor inside the elevator cab tracks its movements. It can also capture images through a peripheral window. The technology transmits 3D renderings and images of the building’s surroundings and then maps the images onto the renderings. The 3D panorama created by the cameras is synced to the sensor, which transmits images in the right sequence and at the correct height. This shows passengers what they would see if they were to move at the edge of the building.

LiftEye can be used in most elevators, as long as they have room for the 50-inch-wide display and can accommodate nearly 1,000 pounds of additional weight.

Some large hotel chains have expressed interest in LiftEye’s technology. Since the sensors do not necessarily have to be located on the same building as the elevator, it would be possible to use the technology to transmit images of theme parks to hotel elevators. Touch-screen capabilities could also allow the panel to work as an interactive map of the building or local attractions.

LiftEye’s technology was demonstrated at the Interlift trade show in Germany in October 2013. The company plans to display the system at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s annual conference in Shanghai this year.

Technology Creates Unique Elevator Experiences

elevator imageNew technology allows elevator riders to have an interactive experience. Digigage, a Tel Aviv-based company, has created a software and sensor system that creates animated “wallpapers” that are projected on screens embedded in elevator walls. The software uses tricks of perspective to make it appear as though the scene is scrolling as the elevator moves.

Digigage refers to the concept as a “digitally transparent elevator.” The company’s designers created the software and sensor system to add depth to the elevator-riding experience and create a new environment. The images can include scenes of windows, aquariums, or coral reefs, as well as news or text. The system senses the movement of the elevator and responds to make images rise or fall on the screen.

Digigage wants to become a universal platform to provide information and content in elevators. The technology can be added to both new and existing elevators and is effective in both tall and smaller buildings. The speed of the images can be adjusted to make it feel as though the cab is moving faster or slower.

The control system is cloud-based, and one user can control multiple elevators at one time and change images and content from anywhere in the world using an internet connection. The system can be customized with text and information for each floor. The technology functions separately from the movement of the elevator itself, so it cannot affect the safety of the elevator.

The software’s designers realized that their idea had the potential to create a feeling of seasickness in elevator riders, so they took that into account when designing the system. It synchronizes the motion that a passenger feels when the elevator is moving to the images that the person sees so that they match and the rider does not experience a queasy feeling.

The company’s designers prohibit the use of their software for advertisements. Their goal is simply to create a positive experience for elevator passengers.

Elevators Are Becoming More Energy-Efficient

elevatorModern elevators are being designed to increase energy efficiency with improved controls, hardware, and other systems that are more compact, use less energy, and can sometimes even create energy that can be used in other parts of a building.

Today’s energy-efficient elevators have several features. Controls are based on software and microprocessors, rather than electromechanical relays. Sensors and software inside the elevator cab can enter an idle mode when the elevator is not being used and automatically turn off lights, ventilation, music, and video screens. Destination dispatch groups passengers together to make fewer stops and get people to their floors faster. This technology also eliminates the need for floor buttons inside the elevator cab.

Elevators in mid- or high-rise buildings can have geared or gearless traction systems that can operate at high or variable speeds.

Double-deck elevators are another new energy-efficient technology. They have two cabs on top of each other, with one stopping on odd-numbered floors and one on even floors. The system reduces the number of stops the elevator must make, which can lower a building’s energy use. Double-deck elevator systems can also reduce the number of elevators that a building requires.

Elevator control software contains tools that allow consultants to study elevator traffic. They look at factors such as the number of floors traveled and times of peak load to estimate energy consumption. This information allows consultants to create strategies to improve the elevators’ energy efficiency and recommend upgrades to the system.

Energy efficiency has become an important component of building design. Advances in elevator technology enable building owners and managers to dramatically reduce the amount of energy their businesses use every day.

New Technology Creates Greener Elevators

elevatorsImprovements in elevator technology make it possible for buildings to use less energy to operate their systems, thereby reducing costs and helping the environment.

Many elevator companies offer retrofitting options to upgrade existing elevator technology. This generally involves replacing older motors and drives with newer versions that use less electricity and produce less heat, which reduces costs for cooling the hoistway machine room.

Regenerative drives in newer elevator systems feed energy back into the building. The braking action against the counterweight while the cab is ascending and against the loaded cab while the elevator is descending allows power to be used to run other systems in the building. Regenerative drives are most effective when ascending with light loads and descending with heavy loads.

Other drive systems can also reduce energy costs. Alternating-current variable-frequency drives use less energy and operate cleaner than traditional direct-current drives. Newer forms of direct-current inverter drives use less energy than older versions.

Businesses are also cutting costs by reducing energy use for lighting and fans in their elevators. Newer in-cab lighting systems use LED units, rather than traditional incandescent bulbs. Another system turns off lighting and fans when the elevator is not in use and restarts them when someone calls the elevator.

Hydraulic elevators can be made greener by using biodegradable vegetable-based oils. Replacing older drives with modern ones can also improve indoor air quality.

The elevators that are installed in newer buildings can come with many standard green features included. Machine-room-less elevators use less energy and require less ventilation than elevators that use machine rooms. New hoisting technologies can also cut energy costs. Regenerative drives come standard in many commercial elevators. Soft-start technology to power variable-frequency drives can reduce operating costs. Units controlled by microprocessors can be used instead of less energy-efficient mechanical relays.

Elevator technology is advancing rapidly, offering business owners the opportunity to cut their energy costs significantly, thus protecting the environment and helping their bottom line.

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