The Changing World of Elevators

Newer elevators can do far more than you think is technologically possible:

New elevator systems and technology are making the pitch harder than ever—and upending the delicate rules of elevator etiquette. Elevators now route employees, sometimes according to rank. They can help corporations keep track of who is in the office and who isn't. They can be programmed so that a germophobe can simply wave an ID card in front of a reader and be shuttled to the proper floor without actually touching a button. They can redirect an unsuspecting employee to a different floor at the request of the boss.

Behind the changes is an increasingly common dispatch system that the two companies that dominate the industry, Otis Elevator Co. and smaller rival Schindler Elevator Corp. have installed in about 200 mid-to-high-rise buildings around the country. Employees select their floor on a keypad in the lobby and are sent to board a specific elevator. The dispatch systems result in fewer people per car and fewer stops, and can be configured to suit a company's particular needs.

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