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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.

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