Elevators become a thing in the Internet of Things

Lloyd Alter (@lloydalter)

max elevator

© ThyssenKrupp

Everybody devotes a lot of ink and pixels to horizontal transportation, to planes, cars, transit and bikes, and surprisingly little to vertical. Yet the numbers of people moved that way is astonishing; There are 12 million semi- automated vertical transportation systems in the world carrying a billion passengers per day. These vertical pods don’t always work either; 190 million hours are lost every year to downtime for maintenance and repairs, and in New York City, a cumulative 16.6 million years is spent waiting for them.

These are of course elevators, which have been carrying people with a surprising degree of safety since the 1870s. And since the 1870s they really haven’t changed much: mechanical and electrical systems with cabs pulled by cables or pushed by hydraulics. They are safe because of Mr Otis’s invention that stops them from falling, and by regular maintenance mandated by government regulation. But that doesn’t stop them from breaking down and stranding people. That’s why there is a little red button and often a phone to call the elevator repair guy to come pry open the doors.

ThyssenKrupp wants to change that; they are working with Microsoft to connect your lonely little elevator to the cloud. In a vertical version of Minority Report, they will take the data and do predictive analysis, learning from its past to predict its future, to replace components before they fail. They call it MAX.

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