Buttons are so last year.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, elevator makers and various other businesses are finding a new selling point in non-contact products that rely on motion sensors and facial recognition technology to work.
They anticipate increased demand for new products you do not have to physically come in contact with, as people try to avoid touching surfaces, buttons and screens.
The latest technology is expected to soon make its way to medical centers, food plants and other facilities that must be kept clean, as well as at stations and offices where many people pass through every day.
Major electronics parts manufacturer Alps Alpine Co. is developing a touchless panel that allows users to scroll through text by simply moving their hands in front of it. Users can also press buttons without having to touch them. Their finger just has to come within 3 centimeters of the display for it to work.
The monitor is equipped with an electrostatic sensor to measure changes in static electricity.
Alps Alpine has been improving the precision of its sensors since the 1990s, putting its technology into car navigation systems and other products.
It expects the touchless panel to be used at medical institutes, ticket machines at stations and elsewhere, and is looking to make the display commercially available around 2021.
Major elevator firm Fujitec Co. added an option to a new model, just released in April, so people can select their destination floors simply by placing their hands over a panel.
The feature uses an infrared sensor also used in automatic doors. But the sensor’s accuracy was strengthened so it only responds to human hands.
The product was originally aimed at catering to hospitals and food factories, but now “operators of offices, commercial complexes and other facilities have expressed strong interest in it” amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a Fujitec public relations official.
Hitachi Building Systems Co. said it is receiving a growing number of inquiries about non-contact technology that allows people to summon an elevator if they have an electronic tag with them fitted with an IC chip.
The company is planning to develop a facial recognition service by the end of fiscal 2020 that would let employees enter an office, unlock room doors and select the elevator’s destination floor.
NEC Platforms Ltd. started offering a smartphone payment service at gas stations in April.
Customers use their smartphones to select the type of gas and the amount to be refueled by using an app in advance and then read a QR code on the pump for service. The payment can also be made through the phone.
Although the service was introduced to deal with personnel shortages at service stations, a public relations official at NEC Platforms said it “will enable staff and customers to come in contact less frequently, and is proving popular among those making efforts to avoid the virus.”