The elevator of the future: Higher, faster!

How can new technologies give this industry new impetus to encourage tomorrow's urban upheaval?

June 18th, 2018 | Innovation

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In perpetual elevation, buildings take elevators to ever higher heights of technical virtuosity. As millions of passengers flock to elevators every day, how can new technologies give this industry new impetus to encourage tomorrow's urban upheaval?

 

Fond of innovation, the world of transportation - from the automotive industry to aerospace - uses simulation and virtual reality to meet the many challenges related to the design of its projects. At a time when cities see the birth of many buildings, high and majestic towers, mobility also affects the world of the elevator. In addition to the ever more modern and innovative classic elevators, many architects plan to create horizontal elevators and equip the buildings of tomorrow. Often omitted when we talk about mobility, elevators represent an exciting playground, where new technologies of prototyping and virtual exploration make it possible to face the challenges of developing and innovating faster.

People at the center of the elevator of the future’s concerns 

If we recognize the elevator as a technical feat, there is also the question of the man during his journey in a confined environment, in restricted space. Usually, this confinement, although ephemeral, can generate a feeling of malaise, even a feeling of claustrophobia. Moreover, some glass elevators can also look outward and provide a feeling of vertigo that seems impossible to control. And yet! 

Taking advantage of the technological means implemented in other industries

Software editors for the industry perfectly know that some people are more sensitive than others to the atmosphere on board an elevator. As a means of transport, the company questioned the potential assistance it could bring to this mode of transport, thanks to its know-how in the fields of aeronautics and automobile transport. The goal? Best serve the design of the elevators of the future. Indeed, its virtual prototyping solutions enable to intervene on the perception the users have of their journey, the attractiveness of the design, the originality or the prestige of the cabin. How? By offering manufacturers an exploration of their cabin in virtual reality and in real time, even before any physical design of their future product.

 

Generally, the integration of light is one of the most important steps in the design of a product. Under the wrong lighting, even the most beautiful materials may look faded or too dark. Therefore, it is necessary to use advanced optical simulation systems to parameterize lighting before any material is physically used. Thanks to light simulation software based on the physical laws of optics, manufacturers can imagine different lighting scenarios and play with the lighting of their cabin, to change its appearance and passengers’ feelings. Often, elevator lighting is very white, and the materials used quite cold, which contributes to a heavy and uncomfortable atmosphere. Thanks to virtual prototyping, manufacturers can experiment their cabin with different materials and lighting conditions in a few clicks, avoiding costly physical prototyping and saving both time and money. For more convenience, new portable scanners for textures and materials now enable to scan any material and apply it directly to the virtual model.

 

Beyond the fact of being able to test ambient lighting, by day and by night, software also offers the possibility of playing with the colors of the light sources. These capabilities open a whole range of possibilities for the future of the elevator: for example, we can imagine that the users can also vary the light atmosphere of the elevator at their leisure, providing a feeling of comfort and control over their trip. An amber-colored light could, for example, create a feeling of intimacy, where a dim pinkish ambiance would have a relaxing and soothing effect.

Virtual reality as a new tool

 Simulation can therefore advantageously help designers and architects choose the right materials, the right colors, and the right light. Coupled with Virtual Reality, it also makes it possible to put the human being – in other words, the future user - at the heart of the design experience to validate these choices. A virtual elevator is currently the best way to perform all conceivable configuration tests and promote exchanges between design teams and the end consumer.

 

As a vector of exchange, virtual reality also proves to be an excellent marketing tool as it allows to experiment and sell elevators thanks to a product experience that is more real than life! It is now possible to live a unique immersive experience in a cave 1/1 scale, with a virtual reality headset or even with a mobile phone connected to the virtual kinematics of a moving elevator, for example. Real-time VR visualization tools allow you to interactively test virtual prototypes in high fidelity 3D to ensure that the selected materials and lighting will convey the best emotions.

 

Finally, beyond the environment of the cabin and the atmosphere that prevails, virtual reality can also be used as a solution to calm feelings of claustrophobia or dizziness.

The revolution of elevator maintenance

In line with the latest high-tech advances in the world of elevators and growing structures, elevator maintenance technologies are fast evolving.

 

By combining digital solutions with virtual reality, technicians can optimize the way they prepare and run the service, resulting in faster turnaround times and less downtime.

 

These technologies are a real revolution for maintenance! While only 25% of the maintenance technician's tasks are replaceable by the machine, the rest remains at the heart of the mechanic's professional expertise. Far from replacing it, new technologies bring him more, by enhancing his know-how and facilitating his training.

 

Thanks to a virtual reality helmet, the technician can practice the maintenance of an elevator, without having to climb dozens of floors or to be suspended above the ground. Immersed in a virtual reality environment, the service technician can interact with the different parts and train safely. Immersive virtual reality tool developed make it possible to explore a real-life environment in real time and to proceed directly and simply to human tests on a digital prototype. The maintenance technician can then explore and examine the mechanism, and find what to replace, very easily.

Develop the challenges of the world of the elevator

With the boom of new technologies, new horizons also help the elevator industry to meet the needs of an even more connected society. Facial recognition, control cameras, human-machine interactions, perceived quality, opening doors, and sound environment, are all issues for the cabins of the future, eager to create ever more efficient elevator systems and get enjoyable users.

 

Optical and sensor simulation are the safest way of developing facial recognition systems and other security cameras and testing them in the virtual world before applying them in the real world. The accuracy of the company’s virtual reality tools will also test the man-machine interfaces in the cabin, and assess the fluidity of the interactions between the user and the different buttons of the elevator.

 

On another hand, regarding the keyboard and the assembly of the cabin, simulation means make it possible to evaluate the perceived quality of the product and the tolerance between the various parts which compose it. These software solutions significantly help to reduce assembly times and rejection rates by optimizing the assembly of different parts: small details make a big difference!

 

Finally, with acoustic design solutions, elevators now can benefit from high-end ways of creating a perfect sound signature, from the sound of the cabin to the voiceover, through the many other sound effects. Acoustic simulation relies on advanced sound recording and 3D sound reproduction techniques to reproduce immersion, spatial location and original timbre with a high degree of accuracy.

In brief!

The elevator industry is in the midst of a revolution full of beautiful promises for the future. To support it as well as possible in its technological transformation, physical simulation and virtual reality appear to be a true springboard of innovation to imagine today the elevators of tomorrow.