The world witnessed one of the worst upside–down year in the history due to COVID-19. Our daily life and activities rapidly changed and we were no longer able to move freely from one place to another. Furthermore, all mankind’s activities that we used to regularly do, become horrifying. On top of which, dealing with the high touch surfaces, such as doors and public surfaces, and using equipment in restaurants and shops since they increase the chances of getting infected as multiple people contaminate them.
During the pandemic, we worked hard to do what it takes to band COVID-19 from spreading all over the Company. We studied all the solutions and means that might help our employees to follow the precautions and prevention measures, such as, implementing remote work and social distance inside the offices and locking down some, unneeded, public facilities.
However, the only obstacle was the high touch surfaces, especially elevator buttons (due to their necessity and the frequent use). As a solution, we decided to put toothpicks so people can use them to press on the buttons instead of using their hands, but it was not that much effective solution for many reasons. To name few, someone must monitor and fill the toothpicks on regular bases, which needs a lot of time and effort. Furthermore, the solution itself is not innovative, or even go along with our digital age.
To maintain Elm's responsibility of facilitating people' lives in a way that allow them to cope with any conditions through creating innovative digital solutions, we created, in the "Research and Innovation" sector, Contactless Elevator Control Device, which turned out to be the most effective solution for the problem.
The device consists of an electronics circuit board that was designed and developed by Elm. This circuit contains Gesture and proximity sensors, a microcontroller and a motor with arm to press the buttons. We worked for a couple of days to develop a quick POC with a 3D printer enclosure and later on moved to a production grade enclosure. Initially we made it rechargeable; however, we found out that there would be an overhead for the maintenance, so we moved to a wall powered solution.
The device is installed next to the buttons inside and outside the elevators and can be controlled in different ways, either using a smart phone application by Bluetooth, or proximity and gesture. Once the user opens the application and approaches the elevator the smart phone application detects which device it is, based on the type of device, it will open the screen with two buttons for up and down or multiple buttons for multi floor selection. Users can also perform the gesture of moving hand up or down for the outside elevator device or keep the hand over the sensor for 2 seconds for inside elevator device, the sensor detects these signals and the button is pressed immediately.
This innovation was highly appreciated and used, as it doesn’t’ require touching the elevator buttons, and thus we have a safe way to avoid touching public surfaces as a precautionary method that helps in reducing the COVID-19 infection rates.
The end aim of modern technologies is to help people practicing their lives easier. To do so, innovations must work non-stopping on developing products that focus on people and their interaction with their environment and societies, and help them to continue their lives safely under any circumstances.