Otis rethinks elevators for smarter buildings – Stacey on IoT
Climate change, COVID and the need for smarter, more productive buildings have prompted elevator (and escalator) maker Otis to redesign the elevator. This week, the company launched what it calls its Gen3 elevator platform, which allows architects and / or building managers to add smart features, voice interaction, gesture control, and routing. predictive to their elevators.
Some of the technologies featured by Otis are familiar – for example, scanning a key card at the elevator bank to call an elevator that will take you directly to your floor. Or screens that show commercials, news, and weather while you’re trapped in the box trying to resolutely ignore your fellow travelers. But with the new Gen3 platform, these options are supported by the base lift platform instead of requiring an upgrade.
Some of the options include things like adding voice commands to the elevator and using gesture commands to gesture up or down when calling the elevator. As someone talking with my hands, it sounds like a potential problem. Otis also offers an API to customers and this API will now be able to integrate with robots, allowing the robot to call an elevator or get on elevators when human traffic is low.
The new technology also allows people to call a technician remotely if the elevator is stuck, allowing people inside the elevator to communicate with someone who can assure them help is on the way. .
But many buildings will likely gravitate towards some of the more familiar technologies Otis has built into its Gen3 platform.
This includes calling the elevator using an app and your phone’s Bluetooth sensors. In this scenario, when you enter the building, the bluetooth sensor tells the elevator that you’ve arrived and if you usually go down to a specific floor, it assumes that’s where you’re headed. You can change this in the app if you want to go to another floor.
The Gen3 platform also has the sensors and technology to deliver predictive routing and predictive maintenance, which Otis has been offering for a few years using renovations.
Otis is bringing futuristic elevator technology to Europe, where it will replace some of the bulky mechanical parts with a truly self-contained “drive-by-wire system,” said Chris Chris Smith, vice president of marketing and product strategy.
In other parts of the world, building codes do not yet allow these systems, Smith said, but he predicts that within the next four to five years, more self-contained systems could be approved here in the United States.
I am more interested in the Otis APIs. The company launched the new technology with a virtual presentation featuring robots communicating with the elevator through APIs. This elevator data stream would be interesting if it were linked to building management systems or used to create digital twins of a building.
Otis charges for API access (he also makes money selling elevators and providing maintenance contracts for other elevator owners) and I was curious how Smith planned to create a company for these APIs.
It is possible to sell a license for the data to companies trying to reconstruct the digital twin of an entire building, but I could also see a competing elevator manufacturer trying to access Otis elevator data if they tried. to provide a maintenance contract on it. . (In the elevator world, Otis could maintain a Kone elevator or vice versa.)
Smith said he’s not sure Otis is selling API access to a competitor. “We have a lot of debate about this,” he said. “Where do we open it and who do we open it to?” This is a conversation we are having. For the moment, this request has not reached us.
For many companies that have accumulated decades of experience in building mechanical objects, digital transformation is forcing them to confront their value. Is Otis a company that has been manufacturing mechanized boxes for 168 years that transport people safely along the backbones of buildings? Or is it a company that promises it can run any elevator based on those decades of experience and charges a monthly fee to keep that building’s infrastructure moving?
Or is it something new? A business that has access to data on how people move around buildings can use that data to deliver critical information to a paying customer who may be a building owner, tenant, or even an outside company interested in leasing. ‘information.
Smith’s colleagues who are debating API access attempt to answer this question. For many heavy machinery and infrastructure vendors, the way they allow access to their data will become a source of their future profits, but it could also become a source of concern. government investigation.