#157: People processor

The amount of time spent by people in waiting for a lift to arrive at their floor is worth about $50 billion every day.

Well, no actually I just made that up, but it’s certainly a lot of wasted time.


Today’s invention is to supply the area in front of each lift door with foot-shaped pressure mats. The mats would have a left foot and a right foot region. The left foot could dial up, by tapping, the ‘tens’ and the right foot the ‘units’ of their target floor. Each mat would carry an illuminating arrow indicating when an individual should move into the lift.

The mats themselves would be laid out so as to avoid clogging the stairwell with random people. They would also need to be spaced out differently according to different cultural/regional norms about personal space. Actually, of course, lots of cultures don’t do the queueing thing at all: in which case, I’d just let them fight for the damn lift as usual.

Each mat, once actvated by being occupied, transmits information to the lift system so that it knows how many people are waiting to go where. It might even record whether an individual was so massive as to have to wait for a less-full lift.

A clever (although not necessarily globally optimal) algorithm would work out for each lift where it’s ‘best’ to go next (given also the positions of all the other lifts) …best could be defined in terms of fairest, or distance minimising or whatever -depends a bit on the culture within the building.

When a lift arrives, it lights up the arrow on each of the mats of the people it wants to collect. Obviously there would need to be mats catering for wheelchairs.


  1. Interesting invention. Hope someone can apply also something this fascinating to truck floor mats. It’s really amazing how technology works!

  2. Truck floor mats. I’m not sure I follow you…and the link seems to be broken?

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