Mike: Have a door in a public bathroom or push a button and think how many other people push this button today? How many other people have opened this door in the last three hours and what were they doing? Did they wash their hands like I did? Well, there is technology that is taking us to a pretty new place and I don’t mean the bathroom doors that have the foot kicker thing that you can step on that opens the door. Pranav Saxena is the Chief Technology Officer of NZ Technologies and is here to tell us about touchless elevator buttons and the technology that can go way beyond elevator buttons because we can look at getting gas, opening doors, pushing buttons.
We asked Pranav whether this technology was inspired by what we have seen during the pandemic.
Pranav: For sure, you hit the nail on the head. The inspiration was that, during the pandemic, you know. you see a surface that it could be some buttons it could be a screen lots of different people are using it throughout the day and you’re also touching it so suddenly if someone’s infected or has a cold even you’re probably going to get that cold later in the day and so the reason.
We were working on it for a while I guess you could say because we were actually in the medical world so we were making touchless or touch-free medical devices for doctors and surgeons and so this is. I won’t go into it too much but it was a device that lets doctors use simple gestures to work with images during the surgery so like CT images MRI images so that same concept was able to create a technology called HoverTap™ so when we saw all this going on in the world and we thought wait there’s a way to make that touch-free now so you don’t need to touch everything and if you think about it a lot of these actions that you’re doing you’re just tapping a few buttons you know you’re not playing a game you’re not doing something complicated that you know you have to train and learn how to do. Almost anyone can press a button in the air and do these kinds of actions so that was our inspiration.
Mike: We’re talking with Pranav Saxena who is the Chief Technology Officer of NZ Technologies and so we can picture this and you can think wow that sounds like something you’d see in a movie or yeah okay let me know when this actually turns into something.
This has turned into… This is out there. This technology is in our world!
Pranav: That’s right that’s right so thanks for bringing that up. It’s being used in elevators so we’ve actually started out by identifying the elevator as bottleneck, because you might have a giant building a giant space but lots of people are going through that same elevator up and down pressing the same buttons and so we thought let’s let’s start with this as our low-hanging fruit and see how people like it.
And the response has been great people are loving it. It’s in a few buildings here in Vancouver we’ve just kind of started you know expanding and trying to commercialize. And we’re working with a well-known manufacturer in Canada, their name is Dupar Controls and these are the guys that they’re professionals that make all the button panels all the units inside the elevator or in the hallway when you call the elevator all those kinds of button panels and controllers that you see all that complex electronics, they make that in Canada.
So by working with Dupar we send them these HoverTap™ units that we make and they integrate it for the customer. So it’s a reliable installation, it’s easy to use. When you go to the elevator you swipe your hand up you call the button you get in the elevator and you see a little screen it shows oh I want to go to the eighth floor, you just tap your finger in the air and you just don’t touch everything’s the same you just don’t touch the screen and it gets selected and you go to the eighth floor and you didn’t have to touch anything.
Mike: Okay so let’s picture this because I can picture the outside of the elevator pretty easily and that yeah you’re kind of… So you swipe up you take your hand like you want to go or you swipe down?
Pranav: Yeah so in the hallway you’ve got the up and down buttons to call the elevator, you can swipe up or swipe down.
Mike: And then you get inside, and let’s picture it if you’re in a big office building or a big high-rise you can have a panel of buttons if you’ve got 24 floors you’ve got, well sometimes 23 buttons because people don’t like the 13th floor so they leave off number 13. Sometimes it’s in there though, and you’ve got this big panel of buttons so that panel of buttons is that still there or that’s not there?
Pranav: Yeah, the existing buttons are still there so that’s the great thing that it works in tandem with the existing buttons and so besides the buttons is now a screen. So we have different sizes of screen, it could be a big screen that handles up to over 60 buttons or it could be like a small. Lots of buildings you know there are like 10 floors at most or maybe five floors so you have like a smaller screen it’s nice and simple. So basically yeah there’s a screen there and you see all the floors and you just tap the floor you want.
Mike: And kind of just by pointing to it.
Pranav: Yeah you just point in front of it and you’ll see as you your hand approaches the screen kind of lights up to say hey I see you. Oh you’re about to click me and then you click the floor you want.
Mike: I love this, this is amazing, this kind of technology. We had an Xbox connect and I always thought that was the pong of what was going on now you’re proving it was the pong of what was going on! Pranav Saxena joining us Chief Technology Officer of NZ Technologies as we touch about talk about touchless technologies. So where else could this application go, do you think? Where else do you see it showing up in the next little while?
Pranav: So we’re working on this as well but you can think of the applications are endless so especially in the self-service kind of realm. Anywhere where you’re in a public setting where there’s lots of different folks using the same interface, so you can imagine a payment terminal when you’re paying at a cashier. You’re at the, even at the movie theatre you’re buying, you’re selecting your seats and buying some tickets. You’re at the train station you just need to buy a couple tickets or you’re at the airport checking in your bags. So all these kinds of situations where you’re interacting with the touch screen and lots of people are using the same interface. So at the end of the day, you’re just pressing a few buttons and so we now have that technology to make all these kinds of touch screen interfaces that you’re used to and make them touch-free.
Mike: Does it go based on the heat emanating from your fingers or is it just the motion that is kind of capturing this?
Pranav: Great question yeah no it uses a… it’s a similar technology to touch screens it’s called capacitive. It’s a capacitive sensor but it’s extended in the air so us humans we’re made mostly of water so technically you know how we’re conductive right? So there’s a very small field there it’s similar to like what you use in those styluses with the tablets and you can see the stylus being written over the screen. So same idea you hover your finger it can actually see where you are in 3D. It can do a lot of fancy stuff but at the end of the day, you just want to click a button so it can see you approaching and then you click.
Mike: If you don’t like thinking about touching places that who knows how many people have touched and you know that’s always been there but the pandemic has kind of shown it to be a whole different world this. This is great. Pranav thank you so much for taking some time for us today to explain this. Best of luck with everything. I look forward to never touching a lot of things again.
Pranav: That’s wonderful thank you so much, Mike.
Mike: That is Pranav Saxena who is with NZ Technologies filling us in on just a little glimpse of the future, he’s the Chief Technology Officer at NZ Technologies.