Making a high-quality elevator isn't just about designing something that can safely go from one floor to another. Elevators are service items. That means that when you design an elevator, you also have to design for people — both individual desires and needs, and the desires and needs of a variety of cultures.
If engineering is really about designing socio-technical systems, then elevators are big, fat, obvious reminder of that dynamic in play. In a profile written for the Wall Street Journal, author Kate Linebaugh describes the work of Theresa Christy, a mathematician and Otis Elevator research fellow.
You press a button and wait for your elevator. How long before you get impatient and agitated? Theresa Christy says 20 seconds.
As a mathematician steeped in the theories of vertical transportation at Otis Elevator Co., Ms. Christy, 55, has spent a quarter-century developing systems that make elevators run as perfectly as possible—which means getting most riders into a car in less than 20 seconds. "Traditionally, the wait time is the most important factor," she says. "The thing people hate the most is waiting."
... The challenges she deals with depend on the place. At a hotel in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, she has to make sure that the elevators can clear a building quickly enough to get most people out five times a day for prayer.
Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal
Via Maria Konnikova
Image: Elevator, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 25103209@N06's photostream
I’m not an engineer, but I can’t stop watching this hypnotic and oddly satisfying video of tying rebar.
The Australian Acoustic Observatory project, described by its creators as a kind of “Google Street View of sound,” is a new acoustic sensor network of hundreds of microphones and digital audio recorders distributed across multiple remote ecosystems on the continent. The solar-powered system will record animal and natural sounds continuously for 5 years. According to […]
Is your brain a machine? Are your thoughts and feelings just malware of the mind? (And what “really” is a machine, anyway?) John and Eva referee the transhumanist fight of the century. In the blue corner, we have Eva meeting founder and Bryan Johnson, CEO of Kernel, straight from his office in LA. And in […]
In the early days of the web, everyone wanted a .com domain for their site. As a result, all the good ones got snapped up. But .com no longer has the cachet it once did. In fact, many new businesses and individuals are opting for other top-level domain extensions. One of the most memorable is […]
When the SNES launched back in the early 1990s, it changed gaming forever. One of the innovations was a gamepad with four action buttons — something that has remained a constant on controllers ever since. The 8BitDo SN30 Bluetooth Gamepad brings that iconic design up to date, with Bluetooth connectivity and support for multiple platforms. […]
After a long day at work, cooking a meal from scratch can seem like too much trouble. Unfortunately, the alternative is usually something unhealthy. Enter the Mellow Sous Vide Precision Cooker. This compact water bath uses cutting-edge technology to cook meat and veggies at the perfect temperature for exactly the right amount of time. It […]