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Smart Elevators Coming to Seattle 364

coaxial writes "Fujitec has unveiled a new elevator system for Seattle's Metropolitan Park West Tower. The new system uses touchpanels to group users by destination. Riders may wait slightly longer for the proper car, but the overall ride is shortened because the car stops less."
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Smart Elevators Coming to Seattle

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  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:08PM (#14491951) Homepage
    You know, down is nice...
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:09PM (#14491962) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:
    "One lady walked up to the kiosk, and I told her to enter her floor number, and she said, 'That's ridiculous,' " said Tim Mooney, Fujitec's west regional vice president, who was in Seattle for the launch.

    The real-world functionality of this system should be an interesting battle between computer-simulated idealism and human greed. Ideally, everyone will be happy if their overall travel time decreases. But in reality, each one of the riders wants to have the fastest possible time all to himself, to heck with averages. The easiest way to game the system might be to simply enter your floor number over and over, to fool the computer into thinking there's an increased demand for that floor. Voila, private elevator!

    It's almost like a test case for the collapse of communism. If everyone simply gave according to their abilities and received according to their needs, everyone would get to work sooner. But as soon as one guy punches his floor a dozen times and gets his private car delivered, the whole darned thing breaks down.

    Or to put it another way, in Soviet Russia, Elevator calls YOU!
    • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:13PM (#14492001) Homepage
      No, it would work the same way as the elevators do now. The more you press the button, the faster it comes. :)
    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:13PM (#14492004) Journal
      The easiest way to game the system might be to simply enter your floor number over and over, to fool the computer into thinking there's an increased demand for that floor.

      Heck, I do that now! The elevator definitely gets there faster!

    • Actually, what I'd expect is for people just to take the first elevator that comes. Regardless of it's destination. (And then, of course, complain when it doesn't stop at their floor!)

      I see people all the time who hit both the down and up buttons on an elevator, just to get the car to come faster. Given that people don't wait for a two-state system to cycle to their state, why are they going to wait for a $floor_count state system?

      This is a great idea, in theory. Tell me in a year how well it worked.
      • The only time I see people getting on a down elevator to go up is when they expect the car to get completely full on the main floor, and have no room when it stop back on the way up.
        • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @03:17PM (#14492664) Journal
          I do this.

          I've been in super-busy hotels during conventions and the best advice you can give anyone is to just get in the elevator if there's space.

          Doesn't matter if it's going up or down, just get in. It will get where you're going eventually.

          From my anecdotal experience, I'd be coming back past the floor I had been on and I'd see the same people I had left behind. Only now the elevator is full.
          • Ironically, I wonder if this would be the case if it wasn't for people like you cheating the system? It reminds me of one of my favorite lunch places. As they get close to their seeting capacity, people will start splitting up when they walk in, one person to hold a table and another person to wait in line and order food. This takes a non-existent problem (almost always there are enough tables for people-with-food to eat at) and turns it into a huge problem (now, instead of people-without-food standing i
      • I see people all the time who hit both the down and up buttons on an elevator, just to get the car to come faster.

        And what do these people do when they are trying to go down, but get into an up elevator and have to ride up 30 floors before it turns around?

        As a funny aside, if there were five people doing this on different floors in a row, and, say, one person going down five floors above them who doesn't do this, along with a person next to them going up, they'd all get on the up elevator, which would sl

        • Pretend you're in a busy hotel, like during a convention.

          Imagine that you're staying on the 7th floor of a building with 30 floors.

          By the time the elevator gets down to your floor, it will almost always be full.

          I've been there and done that.

          My advice: Get on the elevator when you can. Even if it's going up, because it will save you time.

          Elevators fill up and you seem to have ignored that small point in your mildly insightful comment.
      • I see people all the time who hit both the down and up buttons on an elevator, just to get the car to come faster.

        And it does come faster. But the people who were going down (eg: to parking) now have an unexpected stop at the lobby to pick someone up who, mysteriously, doesn't get off the elevator with them. Then the elevator goes back up to the lobby and stops to pick up the person who pressed the up button. Of course, she's already on the elevator so it just waits there for nobody. In the end, everybo
    • Wouldn't the elevator computer register a request for a particular floor from any particular floor only once? What is the difference between 2 people going from 3rd to the 45th and 5 people going from 3rd to the 45th? I would expect the elevator to only register unique requests from the same floor and any additional requests to be discarded, simply because people do it today as well: they just keep pressing the damn button over and over again while waiting for the elevator.
      • The system, at least from the blurb, seems to squeeze people into elevators by floors, so instead of stopping on every floor the way up you just stop on one or two. Since elevators have size and weight constraints, this means the elevator needs to know how many people want to go to a particular floor so it can fill the elevator properly. If it didn't have this data it would have to assume the amount of people, and assumption is not a good thing when it comes to elevators.
  • by 0110011001110101 ( 881374 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:09PM (#14491965) Journal
    "The predictive logic in our software acts like neurons in our body, parking (the elevators) at certain floors, knowing where the demand might be at certain times."

    Hmmm, I smell an upgrade coming.. incorporate fingerprint scanning software into the touchpad.. and send an elevator car full of convicted felons crashing to the earth...


  • Oh God... (Score:5, Funny)

    by john83 ( 923470 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:10PM (#14491976)
    Next, they'll give it a personality. A cheerful personality.

    At this rate, Douglas Adams will overtake Clarke as the SF writer who predicts the future.
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by scovetta ( 632629 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:11PM (#14491986) Homepage
    It's so good to be alive these days. The hours I spend each day riding up to the 9th floor of my building could be exchanged for time spent waiting on the ground floor with dozens of other (now happy) travelers.

    Thank you, Smart Elevator Company!
  • Waiting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:11PM (#14491990)
    "Riders may wait slightly longer for the proper car"
    To me, once you're riding time appears to go by quickly, it's the waiting for the damn thing in the first place that's frustrating.

    Human nature I suppose.
    • Re:Waiting (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Politburo ( 640618 )
      Not true in taller buildings when you're going to/from the upper floors and you have to stop at every. damn. floor. on the way up/down.
      • Just get a continues elevator. It would even improve Darwinism some by killing of users that fail to operate it.
      • I agree. I've almost come around to timing my "elevator commute". I'm on the 19th floor in my building.

        If I go 1 - 19 with no stops, it's no less than 30 seconds after the doors close.

        Now, the elevators are pretty nice in that there's three banks that serve different floors (ever played SimTower? I haven't, but I'm sure they'd be decent at the game if the designers played it). Even though the only options are 1, 4 (trading floor), and 14-22, stops at 1, 4, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 easily boost the tim

    • There are absolutely times when you're willing to try climbing out the mythical hole in the top of all TV elevators just get away from some seriously bad perfume or B.O.
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:13PM (#14492003) Homepage Journal
    Way back in the day I used to do some IT work for a company that made elevator buttons for the big elevator companies. It was one of the oddest companies you had ever seen.

    I used to ask them why the basic "up/down" button was never replaced with a better control system -- you could request the floor you wanted to go to on the outside of the elevator instead of the inside. Sure it would cost more (needing buttons at every floor) but you could prioritize the elevator's path, saving money and time in the long run.

    They told me it would never happen -- elevators would always be as they were. I guess he was mostly right, since it is now 10 years later and we still have up/down buttons, long waits, and no real efficiency in destination planning. I actually used to consider about once a year writing a paper on sorting the elevator destinations real time based on where people were and where they would be heading.

    I'm surprised it finally happened.

    A few things I wish elevators had (some jokingly just out of frustration):

    1. On/off toggle. The idiot that hits the call button ten times would only toggle the button on and off 5 times. Let him wait, I hate the clicking sound.

    2. On/off toggle in the elevator. Have you had the kid hit 10 buttons? I have. Many times. Have you had some idiot hit a few buttons by accident? I get it every week. Not that I'm in a rush, but come on, think before you hit a button.

    3. Early elevator arrival notification. Tell me which elevator will be the one I'll be entering. I've been in some buildings where I'll miss 3 elevators because they don't notify you which one to wait by. Maybe they do this to prevent people from crowding the doors, but I'd rather people learn etiquette than have the crazy rushes you see in some Chicago lobbies.

    4. VIP floor access. Pay $1 and get to your floor immediately.

    5. BING muting. Have you been in these elevators that have to BING at every floor, even when you're going to the 33rd from the 1st? Yeesh, give me a mute button.

    6. Free spray deodarant in each elevator. Talk about needing to teach people etiquette.
    • 5. BING muting. Have you been in these elevators that have to BING at every floor, even when you're going to the 33rd from the 1st? Yeesh, give me a mute button.

      The dings aren't for you. Be glad that you can fucking see.
      • I should be glad that we have technology to replace the BING for people who can't "fucking" see. How about just anouncing the floor number before the elevator stops?

        33 floors, 33 bings?

        Or 33 floors, no bings, and "You've arrived at 17."

        You're right, I'm glad I'm not blind, those bings would still drive me nuts.
    • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:21PM (#14492100) Homepage Journal
      I think the BING sounds are for the benefit of blind riders, who can count the number of BINGs to determine which floor they're on. The same goes for the one-BING-for-up, two-BING-for-down tones that accompany each door opening.
    • I really like the Idea of the On/Off toggle. This would come in useful, when people decide to take the stairs. They could be courteous and turn it off, or motion/heat sensors could detect if the person left. This would also be nice inside the elevator, when you happen to press the wrong button. I think eliminating stops that aren't even needed would speed up the elevators much more than all this smart elevator stuff.
    • 7. A button to temporarily override that godawful buzzing sound if the door is left open too long.
    • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:46PM (#14492370) Homepage
      • On/off toggle in the elevator. It's a standard Otis option, but it's not ordered much.
      • Early elevator arrival notification. Tell me which elevator will be the one I'll be entering. It's common to have lobby level "This car up" signs, controlled by the dispatching system. But above the lobby level, it's rare.
      • VIP floor access That's more common than you might think. It's called a "priority hall call station" in the elevator industry, and is usually an RFID or swipe card reader.
    • The on/off toggle is seriously going to piss you off the first time the little lamp or diode breaks, and they always break.
    • 2. On/off toggle in the elevator. Have you had the kid hit 10 buttons? I have. Many times. Have you had some idiot hit a few buttons by accident? I get it every week. Not that I'm in a rush, but come on, think before you hit a button.

      Here in Japan, we've already got that. Admittedly I haven't seen the technology used in public elevators--probably because someone would accidentally switch off somebody else's floor, and the next thing you know umbrellas are being drawn []--but at my former employer's office i

  • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:13PM (#14492015) Homepage Journal
    Homer approaches an elevator somewhere in the plant and pushes the down button.

    Homer: Whew! I made it the whole day without seeing her again.
                    [The elevator arrives and Homer gets in. The door closes and he notices he's crammed in with Mindy]
                  Aah! I mean, hello!
    Mindy: [awkward] Heh...I guess we'll be going down together -- I mean, getting off togeth -- I mean --
    Homer: That's OK. I'll just push the button for the stimulator -- I mean, elevator.
  • But what we really want to know is does this 'smart elevator' prevent the annoying jackass from hitting all the floor buttons at the same time?
    If so, this truly would be a wonderful invention.
    • If you hit every button, all the them go off.

      It's been in practice for a while to keep the kids from being jerks.

      Of course, they can hit all but 1 button. But when you get on, you just hit the other buttons until they all clear and then choose your floor.
  • by RedLeg ( 22564 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:14PM (#14492018) Journal
    The elevators in the Marriott Marquis on Times Square work exactly like this, and they have been there for a while.

    • Yep, same with the elevators in the big office tower at 120 Kearny (aka One Montgomery) in San Francisco. They have also been there a while.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:48PM (#14492387)
      I'm staying in the Marquee as I write this, and I can say this is the stupidest system for elevators I've ever seen.

      When it gets very busy, which is in theory when this system should be most effective, it breaks down completely. Here's what happens: All the people who are confused and tired of waiting for their elevator rush to any elevator that opens, not realizing it may not be going to their floor. Then the people who actually know how the system works can't get on their elevator, and have to rekey their floor and then be told to wait for a different elevator. And then the whole process repeats.

      It is somewhat hilarious to watch people get on the elevator, reach for the non-existent floor buttons inside the car, then look around confused as the doors close and they are whisked off to some random floor nowhere near their destination.
    • We had this at the university dormitory for the math and physics department for at least 20 years now. It's a 20 stories high building so it was necessary. The solution didn't require any special hardware though, just a bit of thinking. Half of the elevators had the buttons for the first 10 floors blocked. :)
  • wait time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vortigern00 ( 443602 )
    Actually, the wait time for an elevator will be shorter. However, because the user will not get to ride the first elevator whose door opens, the perceived wait time will be longer.
    • No, the trip time, including both waiting and riding, is shorter. Maybe enough shorter that both will reduce, but the emphasis is on reducing the riding time, in most cases.
  • by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <aaaaa@SPAM.yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:17PM (#14492046) Journal
    i think the best solution to this problem would be to upgrade it to web 2.0 using AJAX and an RSS/Atom feed.
  • heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:17PM (#14492048) Homepage
    "One lady walked up to the kiosk, and I told her to enter her floor number, and she said, 'That's ridiculous,'

    Apparently my mother-in-law was in Seattle this week.
  • The Destination Floor Guidance System...

    Guidance system? Could it be they're planning to use elevators to launch guided missiles? Or perhaps launch people to exotic destinations? Or perhaps they mean guidance as in job placement. Can't you see some interviewee getting on and the elevator going "you don't want to work there."?

  • That's not what I'd call a real smart elevator.

    I'd love it if somebody came up with a way for multiple cars to be able to share the same set of shaft/tracks and pass each other at designated points (or switch shafts). Instead of having, say, six shafts for six cars you should be able to double the number of cars (at least) in a tall building, given that if a car is heading upwards from floor 18 there should be no reason why another car couldn't use the shaft below, say, floor 16. Obviously there'd have t
    • I'd love it if somebody came up with a way for..

      Well, it's already been come up with, thanks to the railroads. But this type of configuration simply isn't cost effective.
    • This is only an issue in buildings with many floors. Which are built with elevators in them to begin with. It would [probably] be too difficult/costly to retrofit into very large buildings. However, if you were doing that, it would be useful to be able to have only two elevator shafts to handle more than two cars. You'd switch them from one track to the other at assorted points. It doesn't actually sound all that difficult to me...
    • There are systems where two cars were one on top of another and hooked together. Not nearly as good, but actually workable with current lift systems. I think these have been done for many years.
  • Hopefully they aren't designed by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation [], makers of Happy Vertical People Transporters with the latest flavor of AI, GPP (Genuine People Personalities).

    From the Restaruant at the End of the Universe
    "Not unnaturally, many elevators imbued with intelligence and precognition become terribly frustrated with the mindless business of going up and down, up and down, experimented briefly with the notion of going sideways, as sort of an existential protest, demanded participation in the d
  • by everyplace ( 527571 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:19PM (#14492077) Homepage
    In the Times Square Marriott here in NYC, in the lobby each elevator has a keypad where you key in the floor you want to go to, and then it shows you on an LED display which elevator number you want to go to. It is actually kind-of confusing, because you type in one number and it gives you another, but after you clear that hurdle, it works great. You get in an elevator, it stops on your floor without further input, and continues to its next destination. I think about that elevator system a lot, despite only ever having used it twice.
  • I was coming back from lunch in the 15 story building I worked at and before I could press the button, two elevators opened in front of us. We stepped in the nearest one and hit the button for our floor and waited... and waited... and waited.

    Then we noticed that the elevator across from us, with its open doors, had the white up arrow lit and we could see in the shiny walls that ours didn't. We crossed the hallway, got in and pressed our floor. The door immediatly closed and away we went.

    I grumbled and my
  • by ndansmith ( 582590 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:22PM (#14492121)
    Open the elevator doors, HAL.

    I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

  • Oh, it's you again. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by krunoce ( 906444 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:22PM (#14492127)
    So this means you'll have to see the same people everyday in the elevator? That sucks. I enjoyed seeing the attractive women from the other floors every once in a while.
  • As an embedded systems programmer, I've always wanted to write the elevator code to purposely bump down in priority any user who presses the button repeatedly.

    Of course, as a backdoor, you'd use two shaves and a haircut and get top priority.
  • It would need work to make it seamless for the user, first the kiosks should be for visitors only. Second each employee would get a wireless device, or a RFID name badge (with privacy protector for off work hours) if it's a locked down elevator and people are only allowed to exit on one floor (I worked in a building like this). The device would have either a 10 key pad with a cheap monochrome LCD display, they could enter their desired floor or have a quick access button for their normal work floor.


  • Social Psychology (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tktk ( 540564 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:26PM (#14492174)
    In one of my social psychology classes, my professor told us that had been called in as a consultant to the college's elevator system. The elevator system in one building was extremely slow and it would take too much work to replace it.

    Instead of messing with elevator, my prof used a bit of social psychology. He had mirrors installed next to the elevator on every floor. Apparently, the self-absorbed students and faculty looked at themselves in the mirrors while waiting for the elevator, and lost track of their waiting time. From what I remember, complaints about the slow elevators got reduced to about 1/2.

    • by shinghei ( 594639 )
      Let me guess...those who stopped complaining must have been identified as being more "self-absorbed" than those who kept complaining.
    • Re:Social Psychology (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spoonyfork ( 23307 ) <> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @03:20PM (#14492697) Journal

      He had mirrors installed next to the elevator on every floor.

      I had an industrial organizational psychology course at university and our prof told us the same story. I was going to share it until I read yours. I somehow doubt we attended the same university much less had the same professor. Could this be a psych course urban legend?

    • The University of Arizona Mathematics department installed chalkboards near the elevators on each floor in the math building. They were a huge hit.
    • Re:Social Psychology (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kenj0418 ( 230916 )
      What you're describing sounds like one of the examples from "Are your Lights On: How to Figure Out What the Problem REALLY Is" by Donald Gause, a book about problem solving and solving the REAL problem -- not necessarily the problem reported. In the example the building management tries various solutions like this one to reduce complaints about the elevator. (Until someone from the elevator company eventually sees that the elevator was configured incorrectly and drastically reduces the wait time).
    • by Peldor ( 639336 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @03:58PM (#14493036)
      Instead of messing with elevator, my prof used a bit of social psychology. He had mirrors installed next to the elevator on every floor. Apparently, the self-absorbed students and faculty looked at themselves in the mirrors while waiting for the elevator, and lost track of their waiting time. From what I remember, complaints about the slow elevators got reduced to about 1/2.

      If he put the mirror on the floor, I bet no one would have complained about the elevator.

    • Re:Social Psychology (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kidgenius ( 704962 )
      I heard the same story in my freshman engineering class some years ago. And our prof said that this situation occurred in a hotel.
  • Smart elevators with greedy dumb riders... forget that. I'll take the stairs and shower on the tenth floor.

  • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:31PM (#14492236) Homepage
    When they changed the elevators at the Marriott Marquis Times Square, not everyone [] was impressed [].
  • All the major manufactures have a system like this, and most likely are already deployed in New York or LA.

    This is not a new idea.

  • What I'd love is a read out telling you (1) how long your estimated time to arriving at your destination is, and (2) how long it would take to take the stairs.

    There are many times when I would take the stairs if I knew it would be much faster, especially at conventions.
  • and you want to know my opinion ??? is a royal _PAIN IN THE ASS_

    in some cases you'll end up using the stairs, as i did frequently.

    the problem with these elevators are basicaly the uneven distribution of people among the several floors. sometimes in the building i worked, the pannel would tell me to take a certain cabin an i was the only passenger to my floor at the moment, but the same cabin was also assigned to a floor with an auditorium in the exact time dozens of people were going to a presentation of a
  • It's a great idea in concept, but in practice it doesn't quite work...

    They had this system at Ameritech in Indianapolis many years ago (now SBC, now AT&T, but I digress...) which was being used for prototype testing (so Ameritech got a discount on their elevator service)

    Instead of a touch panel they had number pad and LCD display but the functionality was the same.

    Every morning there'd be a crowd of 20 people at Elevator A, 5 at Elevator B and 1 at Elevator C.

    This led to users "hacking" the system by re
  • The company began its U.S. operations in Lebanon in 1977...

    How exactly does that work? Wouldn't it have been easier/more useful to start U.S. operations in the U.S.? ...not Lebanon?
  • The first time I saw a wheel mouse was at work. "How ridiculous" I remember thinking - right up until I got home that afternoon and discovered that my old 2-button mouse was totally useless.

    Of course, once the users become accustomed to this, they'll probably use elevators in other buildings thinking "how quaint".

  • Obligatory H2G2 quote:

    It should be explained at this point that modern elevators are strange and complex entities. The ancient electric winch and maximum capacity eight person jobs bear as much relation to a Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Happy Vertical People Transporter as a packet of peanuts does to the entire West Wing of the Sirian State Mental Hospital. This is because they operate on the unlikely principle of defocused temporal perception, a curious system which enables the elevator to be on the ri
  • I was just thinking to myself, "what I really want is an elevator ride a few times a day where I cannot predict the number of stops, the order of stops, or how long it will take to get to my floor."

    Well, look -- someone made one. Excellent. THIS will really play hell with the kids in hotels that push EVERY button a thousand times. Between them and the greedy, loud-cell-phone-talking, expensive-shoes-wearing yuppies pushing their button a thousand times to get priority, here's what I expect to see:
  • The Mariott Marquis on Times Square has this system install installed. It's a massive pain in the ass.

    1. The system expects each passenger to enter their floor number once. It uses this to figure out the demand for the various floors. But what do people do when they're impatient for an elevator? That's right, they push the button again. And they did that with this new system too causing it to think that there were 200 people who wanted the 10th floor.

    2. It may work for low volume elevators, but not at
  • How amusing that Novell Netware greatly reduced file access times with a technology called Elevator Seeking that allowed the OS to pick up all the segments of a file, in random order, in a single sweep of the drive platters and now elevators are going to introduce head thrashing as if it were a good idea.

    I guess time will tell.

Genetics explains why you look like your father, and if you don't, why you should.