Everything seems to be going “touchless” these days. Now, add elevators and doors to the list.
“You can call out to a car, you can call out to your lights at home, you can call out to your TV, this is just the next step,” explained Tommy Wallis, who runs Consolidated Elevator in Southern California.
Even before the pandemic, his company was working to bring hands-free, voice-activated elevator tech to buildings.
I visited a building in Long Beach where the voice activated elevator tech is installed.
“You just call it out, say the word ‘elevator,’ and it will light up, and you say ‘going down,’ and it will take the call,” explained Wallis.
The system works from inside and outside the elevator, the voice tech can handle up to 100 floors by number or specific names like “lobby” or “ballroom level.”
In my tests, the elevator worked as expected. The trickiest thing is informing visitors that it’s an available feature. One building patron we ran into loved the system, especially for avoiding germs.
“It’s the new future, I would hope everywhere elevators would start to be like this,” said Debbie Tate.
Next, I headed to Mid-City Los Angeles to check out a building with the latest touchless entry tech installed from a startup named Openpath.
“We’ve developed a technology called Touchless Access. This is the ability to wave your hand in front of the reader at the door and the door unlocks,” explained Openpath CEO James Segil.
The company is making it so employees can ditch their physical keycards and use a smartphone or smartwatch for building access. You don’t even need to take your phone out of your pocket for the system to work. Just wave your hand in front of a reader.
Openpath’s true magic comes into play when a standard door is outfitted with a self opening arm.
This means employees can walk through doors without physically touching anything. Openpath says they are seeing increased demand for their solutions in the wake of COVID-19.
“It started as a nice to have – people loved the convenience of just walking up to a door, waving their hand and walking in – now it’s a must-have because people want to return to work safely and know that they don’t have to touch any kind of common surface,” concluded Segil.