Microsoft's Building Smart Elevators That Know When You Want to Get On

Smartphones, smartwatches, smart home appliances. Why not smart elevators? That's the question Microsoft asked—and then answered, by putting a Kinect camera in an elevator, training it to recognize when people want to get on, and teaching it to open the doors automatically when needed. Smart, indeed.

The project, installed at Microsoft's Redmond, Washington lab and spearheaded by research co-director Eric Horvitz, trained the Kinect's eyes on a hallway, noting how people act when they want to board the elevator compared to when they're just walking by.

The second phase will give the elevator a way to interact with passengers with gestures. As Horvitz told The Washington Post, "something as stodgy and old-fashioned as an elevator could have really cute gestures and curiosities and say 'Are you coming?' with a door motion," perhaps jiggling the doors back and forth when it's unsure if you want to get on. Ostensibly, you'd either nod "yes" or "no," and the elevator wouldn't be confused anymore, though that capability hasn't been tried yet.

You won't be seeing this technology anywhere outside of Microsoft's lab for the time being. But maybe, someday, when you're impatiently waiting for the elevator and muttering, "c'mon c'mon c'mon," your words won't be falling on deaf ears. [Washington Post]

Image: Shutterstock / iurii