Monday, September 20, 2004

Better Elevator Scheduling!

WARNING: This blog entry was imported from my old blog on (which used different blogging software), so formatting and links may not be correct.

I had a really interesting experience in the hotel this week: I got in
the Elevator and there were no buttons anywhere to select my
destination floor! Turns out I just followed people into the elevator;
I shouldn't have done that.

The floor selector is OUTSIDE the elevator, on every floor. When you
get to the elevator entrance, press the floor you want to go to. It
then tells you which of the three elevator doors to use. You get in,
and the elevator will go to the desired floors.

My first reaction was that this was a really bad user design; I have
been trained to enter an elevator and look for the console to
make sure my floor's button is selected - so this was discomforting.

But on the second trip a little while later I realized that this is a
superior design! Provided of course people can get used to it - which
may take a while.

Why is it superior? Because it allows the elevator controller to schedule
the three elevators more optimally. That's because as soon as you arrive
to the console on your floor, you tell it EXACTLY where you want to go,
not just up or down. This extra information lets the elevator scheduler
make better decisions since it doesn't have to wait until you get into
the elevator to find out exactly where you want to go.

For example, let's say three different people arrive at the elevator
on the eight floor. If they all press the down button in a regular
elevator, one elevator will be dispatched to the eight floor. However,
in this new system, if the three people are going to different floors
and press say 1, 3 and 5, then all three elevators will be dispatched
to the eight floor. And so on. I've used the elevator for a couple of
days now and have totally gotten used to it and I definitely prefer


  1. This is ingenious. Websites should ask users to identify their task mode - learn/download/get a question answered - that would be like knowing the floor ahead of time and then then web site could "plan" what links to show you as you navigated to your topic area.

  2. Whilst I agree in principle - in practise, I'm not sure it can work like this. In your example, if it really did dispatch three elevators, how would it know which floor or floors they should call at? If it dispatches all three elevators, one to call at each floor, how do you (as a user) know which one to get in?