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How to make elevators more interesting, efficient or useful?

Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/atmospheric-image-of-newlyweds-kissing-in-an-elevator-12671729/

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola Sep 21, 2022
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Elevators are in every building and just go up and down carrying people to different grounds. However, they spend a lot of energy, need to be maintained and serve only one purpose - up or down lifting.
Can we think of any other use of an elevator or a moving staircase? Can they be used to generate electricity, do some other demanding work while going down, go sideways and do something, be powered in a different way, ...?
Any ideas are good ideas, just as long they are original.
10
Creative contributions

Elevator showing metrics of its use

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Michaela D
Michaela D Sep 22, 2022
A little screen in the elevator shows:
  • How many people before you have taken the elevator today? Or, how many rides has the elevator done today? Counting becomes 0 and starts again either at midnight or 6am.
  • How many rides for each floor today?
  • The above metrics can be for the month, too.
Why: A little fun thing that shows the habits of the people in your building and makes you more aware of elevator use. Also, an indicator for your own habits: “I am always the first one to take the elevator in the morning” or “The elevator has already done 20 rides when I leave home”.
I think this idea has the potential for more. Do you have any suggestions?
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Miloš Stanković
Miloš Stanković4 months ago
There could be a chart showing how many calories you would burn if you used the stairs instead. For instance, for people of X weight, going four floors up the stairs, it's around X kcal much. And "this equals to 3 kilograms of fat loss in two months if used every day."
A combination with the scales could provide for direct, more precise info.
You could promote less energy consumption by framing it as a competition between floors - "the people from the sixth floor are still using stairs mostly, good for them. This equates to 130 calories burned." The city or the neighbourhood could also use these metrics to promote less energy consumption. For instance, all buildings with seven floors in the neighbourhood compete with each other on who uses the elevator the least, the winner after an X period gets a subsidy for painting their exterior or interior. ---- Or one could go the other way, trying to illicit gratitude for the existence of these overlooked things like elevators. Showing how much time you save with them. For instance: "Using the stairs going up seven flights of stairs would take 8 minutes, with the elevator, it's just one minute. Enjoy these free extra minutes on us, call a friend and catch up".
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Michaela D
Michaela D4 months ago
Miloš Stanković I really like the competition idea between floors and buildings. The municipality could also organize a reward program: Buildings that spend less than X amount of energy for the elevator per person / per month for three consecutive months get free painting / cleaning / fixing of things. The building that has the least consumption gets even more benefits.
The elevator energy consumption is shown on the screen in the elevator to motivate people and see how the building is doing in the reward program and competition. It can even say "We have only left 50 elevator rides this month. Use them wisely!" I imagine on the last day of the month no one would take the elevator if meant getting the reward 😁
Exceptions of course for people with moving difficulties (elderly, people on wheelchairs etc.) Each building could get extra rides for every person who cannot take the stairs.
Also, I think this would make sense for buildings with up to 4 floors. It gets a bit too much after that.
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Miloš Stanković
Miloš Stanković4 months ago
I was thinking of six to seven floors. Because those are accomplishments. If someone lives on the second floor and doesn't take the elevator, that isn't noteworthy. Unless they are 70+ years old.
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Simple time estimation game

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Spook Louw
Spook Louw Oct 05, 2022
In line with Povilas S's contribution, you could remove any indication of which floor the elevator is on. There would then be a number of "stopwatch" buttons available for people to use. The idea then is to press your button last, but before the elevator reaches your intended floor.
So it'd be a challenge to see who has the best estimation of the travel time, and who has the nerve to avoid pressing the button early.
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Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
You should at least always see the current destination floor of the elevator, otherwise, it would get complicated. For example, let's say I'm going from the 9th to the first floor. I think the elevator has to go 9 floors down and I'm approximating the time in my head when to press the stopwatch button. In the meanwhile, there's someone on the 4th floor who needs to go down. They press the call button while I'm going down. I think normally the elevator would stop to let them in, wouldn't it? So as soon as the elevator's destination floor changes, those inside it should get notified.
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Spook Louw
Spook Louw4 months ago
Povilas S Yes, you're right. Floors with stops requested could simply be indicated with lit floor numbers on the keypad.
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Live entertainment

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Spook Louw
Spook Louw Oct 10, 2022
Perhaps Darko Savic's idea for a 2-way video street vending machine where you pay if a comedian can make you laugh could be a solution for this.
The elevator trip will be just long enough for a comedian to tell you a quick joke. It provides entertainment for people without taking any time off their day, whilst providing a large platform for comedians (this could work for other entertainers as well).
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Elevator speed adjusted to the electricity consumption of the floor where you are going

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola Sep 21, 2022
Adjusting elevator speed according to the electricity spent by people/companies on that floor the day before. The elevator goes faster to the floors where people spend less electricity. Where people spend more, elevator drags (goes really slow).
Why?
  • raising awareness of how much energy you as a company/individual spent
  • motivating people to start saving energy and speed up the elevator speed to their floor
  • competition between the companies or neighbours
The same could be done for water consumption, recycling or waste management, etc.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni4 months ago
The idea is good. However, people from multiple floors enter and exit an elevator during peak hours. The people from energy-efficient floors might get dragged into the slow-traveling lifts.
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Power the elevator by cycling or other means using manual power

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Povilas S
Povilas S Sep 25, 2022
Inspired by this idea. Place some exercise machines inside the elevator to harness the manual power to move the elevator.
Why - you get to exercise daily and save electricity.
Challenge: It might be difficult to power the elevator solely by manual force, especially if there's only one person inside the elevator, since the cabin itself weighs pretty much, then you add the weight of the passenger(s) and also the mechanical gear to produce power. Perhaps it would be possible to make the elevator move very slowly by cycling a stationary bicycle fast or hard and using the right gears to adjust and distribute the power.
Make two elevators beside one another - one is electric, which you use when you are short of time or lazy, and another manual one which you use when you want to exercise, have some fun, or just a different experience.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola4 months ago
Cool idea! I think the powering of the elevator shouldn't be so hard, since all modern elevators have a counterweight that balances the system. That means that the electromotor is used solely to shift the balance from the elevator to the counterweight, or the other way around. This could be performed by manual energy generation, I think.
The problem is how to power the elevator when no one is inside (when the elevator is on the 23rd floor and you "call it" from the ground level).
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Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
J. Nikola Perhaps the stationary bicycles or similar gear should also be placed at each floor near the elevator door, for example, two bicycles at each side of the door.
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Different rules/etiquette every week

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Sep 26, 2022
Every week put up 5 amusing rules that regulate interactions between people in the elevator that week. Aim for the rules to serve as conversation starters and bond people over time.
Examples:
  • The person who came in last has to tell the new person what was the most joyous/memorable thing from their previous day.
  • Greet everyone by saying "Zopittybop-Bop-Bop" with a straight face
What else?
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Elevators with a scale displaying your weight difference when moving up and down

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Povilas S
Povilas S Sep 21, 2022
Install a scale in the elevator's floor to show your (or the sum of all passengers') weight. When the elevator is still, the scale will show your normal weight. When the elevator starts moving up or down there will be a weight difference (you'll weigh less when going down and more when going up) due to its acceleration. A reverse effect will be noticeable when the elevator stops (decelerates) - you'll weigh more when it slows down after going down and less when it slows down after going up. The weight difference will only be present during acceleration/deceleration, once the elevator reaches constant speed the weight will stabilize.
To make the difference apparent, the final number can stay fixed on the screen (next to floor numbers, for example) - minimal weight reached when accelerating down and maximal weight reached when accelerating up. Another way to emphasize the weight difference would be to make the elevator accelerate/decelerate slower or for longer (increase its final speed), or both. I think seeing the numbers would make people want to squeeze the maximum out of the weight gain/loss if only they had the means to control elevator's acceleration.
The latter wouldn't be a good idea safety-wise and in terms of energy consumption, but maybe an elevator could have a demo ride function for which you'd have to pay (put some coins in). Let's say it's a 12-story building and you request a demo ride - the elevator keeps accelerating till the 6th floor and then decelerates till 12, then it does the reverse option when going down. That would be some amusement ride. Make the price for the demo ride worthy of the energy the elevator consumes when doing this. Also, make sure it's safe enough, maybe make the acceleration and deceleration slow enough or instruct people to hold on to provided handles, etc.
Apart from having fun with acceleration weight loss/gain, there are a couple of other purposes that a scale in an elevator would serve - a way to keep an eye on your weight daily when going out and coming back home and also a way to know how many people or items can still fit until you reach a dangerous limit (which is usually indicated in kg somewhere on an info plate inside the elevator).
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola4 months ago
Really cool examples of how people can learn about science, too. Sounds fun, although I am not sure that everyone would like to know their weight every time they enter the elevator. It could also cause some people to feel bad about their weight, especially when other people are in the elevator, which could result in them avoiding the elevator or waiting for another one. Maybe we should think about this in a bit different way since many people are sensitive about their weight.
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Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
J. Nikola Yes, good point, I thought about that too. The thing about other people knowing your weight, in this case, is not that relevant since whenever you'd be in an elevator with at least one more person, you'd see the sum of your weights.
If you are two, you could deduct your weight (given you know it) from the number the scale shows and thus get to know the other person's weight, but this is already an additional task and maybe even fun in some sense, it doesn't seem like invading someone's privacy too much, but maybe for some, it might still be uncomfortable. On the other hand, it's a good conversation starter for those who don't have weight-related complexes.
A way to avoid someone feeling bad about this would be to make scale readings accessible by paying a fee (similarly to a demo ride option) or only when there's one person inside the elevator (this could be judged by the weight, using thermal or movement sensors, etc.).
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Elevator games

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Povilas S
Povilas S Sep 22, 2022
I couldn't help but remember this urban legend about the elevator game. It's spooky, but at the same time incites you to try doing it. I think just the rule of needing to go to some random combination of floors in anticipation that something will happen, does the job.
This principle could be used to design games to entertain people when the elevator is less used (say in the late evening or at night or at any time of the day if the building is quiet) and again - take money for it. So basically this would be a hybrid between a slot machine and an elevator - put some coins in and you can play.
How it works:
You put the coins in, press "play" and the screen starts displaying you the instructions, e.g. "press the 2nd-floor button" - once you got there and the door closed after opening, it continues: "press the 3rd-floor button", then "press the 5th.." after you got to the 5th floor it asks you to guess the next floor you need to go to. In this specific case, the idea behind the combination of numbers is that 2,3, and 5 are all prime numbers, so the next one would be seven.
If you guessed that right you'd get some prize, it could be giving you your coins back or doubling them. But it would be more interesting if something happened outside of the elevator, on the final floor you got to, for example, the lights of that floor could start blinking, some music could start playing, etc.
The example with prime numbers is rather easy, there could be various mathematical sequences (functions) that are way more difficult to guess, the rules could require you to guess not just one but a few numbers in the sequence, to win the game. Each time you guessed the number right something would happen on that floor after the door opened.
The combination of floors could also code the melody representing notes on a piano keyboard. Once you've finished riding the combination the elevator would play you the melody.
Riding the elevator to all the floors is arguably more interesting than turning handles on a slot machine since it involves you physically moving somewhere. It's like playing chess with real people instead of chess figures.
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The elevator connected to a mill producing flour

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola Sep 21, 2022
What if we connected the elevator chord to a clamp connected to a small mill? That way, every time an elevator goes up or down, a mill rotates and grinds grains into flour that can be used by an in-house kitchen or sold to local bakeries.
Benefits
  • relatively easy to set up
  • a system adapted to do the work without additional energy spending
  • producing flour that can be sold - saving money for e.g. elevator service
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Ambrose Chua
Ambrose Chua4 months ago
The energy used to move a lift is produced by an electric motor. Attaching additional systems to the lift will merely increase the energy used to move the lift, thus contributing to the energy costs of the lift.
Although, breaking a lift turns some of that energy into heat. An optimisation could be to turn the kinetic energy into electrical energy during breaking, just like electric cars do. But in lifts, I don't think the amount of energy saved is significant enough compared to an electric car. Maybe some expensive lifts already do this, but I don't know.
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Elevators with interactive screens

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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain Sep 21, 2022
How about having interactive screens inside elevators that could be used for several purposes like: 1. Displaying relevant news and information
2. For allowing people to play quick games like tic tac toe to help people socialize within the short time frame
3. Display jokes, make people smile and laugh together before the day starts, or when the work-shift ends!
4. Invite people to donate money for some noble, social causes
What other usages can you think of for such interactive screens?
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Aashi Agarwal
Aashi Agarwal3 months ago
I would like to share a few ideas about the use of interactive screens in elevators in apartment complexes:
  • I shifted to a big apartment complex two year ago and I still get to hear about new small businesses being run by neighbours all the time. The interactive screens in the elevators could display details about small businesses being run from homes on each floor - be it goods like apparels, books, home-cooked meal or services like printing, photocopy, consultancy and so on.
  • It can also be used to notify residents about pre-loved furniture or appliances on sale or as giveaways.
  • People can also use it to list their interests and find neighbours interested in similar activities to pursue together such as dance, tennis, gymming, badminton, swimming etc.
People are notified of the goods/service on sale on each floor as they ride the elevator. It helps people know about opportunities in their very neighbourhood while allowing small businesses to market their products more efficiently.
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Michaela D
Michaela D4 months ago
This is not necessarily interactive but mostly reminders:
It will be rainy today, did you bring an umbrella? Or It will be sunny today, did you bring sunglasses?
Is anything special you need to bring or do today?
Or even: Keys, phone, wallet?
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Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
On one hand, this is a good idea - making the time spent in the elevator more interesting, but on the other - elevators are one of a few places in public left where you can have a little silent moment which serves as a mini meditation.
Usually, people are quiet in the elevator even (or especially) when going together with unfamiliar people. It might be a cognitive bias, but I'd say I've noticed that for some reason people tend to turn to their phones less in an elevator as well, maybe due to the short time there is for waiting and not wanting to miss their floor.
So it's a rather enforced moment of silence amid the everyday concrete and social media jungle. Putting a screen there would take this away. I think I'd rather keep them as they are now.
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