As the world reopens its doors to business, employees return to work, students go back into classrooms full-time, and tourists gain increasing confidence to travel again, we are beginning to reimagine what a safe, healthy functioning society might look like and whether enough measures are in place to protect us from exposure to COVID-19 and related infectious threats. The Omicron variant is a reminder that the pandemic is not over. The return to restrictions and, in some cases, imposing increased measures are standardized routines the world has come to understand as necessary steps in the fight against the virus. The pandemic has also demonstrated a low tolerance to health exposures that have the potential to cause harm. In fact, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) is still directing industries and the public to frequently clean high-touch surfaces every day as the coronavirus has the potential to spread on surfaces. Today, there is a heightened awareness of the need for increased safety in public places. Technology that addresses public safety risk mitigation associated with viruses has the potential to quickly emerge as a leading solution, which is exactly how NZ Technologies Inc. (NZTech) perceived a post-pandemic world to be. NZTech is a Vancouver-based technology company specializing in the design and manufacture of advanced Human-Machine Interaction (HMI).
When the pandemic struck, NZ Tech recognized an opportunity for its Touchless Image Navigation technology, initially designed to work within the sterile conditions of the operating room, to be reengineered for the vertical-transportation (VT) industry, especially elevators. Its newest invention is the HoverTap™ Lift and HoverTap™ Swipe, a patented, AI-powered technology that transforms existing touch-based human-input devices including elevator buttons into a contact-free interface.
The elevator is one of many highly frequented public spaces vulnerable to contamination of pathogens with the floor selection panel and hallway buttons being the most high-touch, high-use surfaces. The patented HoverTap technology was developed with the user’s experience in mind and its intuitive interface is easy to grasp for new users. The technology has two main components: a novel touchless sensor design in the form of a “picture frame” fitted over the elevator buttons and a machine learning algorithm. Seamlessly integrated, the system detects the 3D position of the user’s fingertip above the surface powered by data-trained artificial intelligence, a first of its kind in the industry. HoverTap panel allows for simple hand-wave and finger-point interactions – getting users to their destination without a single touch.
The HoverTap suite is commercially available through a Manufacturing Collaboration Agreement with Dupar Controls, a leader in the innovation, design and manufacture of elevator control systems and push-button technology. Flushed integration with modern panels inside the cabin and in the hallway provides a premium finish for a luxurious installation. As the original equipment manufacturer of the HoverTap suite, NZTech will provide the core hardware and, with Dupar, collaboratively market the products targeting elevator projects for both modernization and new construction. With the combined expertise of NZTech as an innovator and Dupar as a manufacturer, touch-free elevator experiences are available for buildings large and small.
Dr. Nima Ziraknejad, NZTech Founder and CEO acknowledged that the HoverTap technology has been well-received by early commercial users including Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver – a respected institution that provides housing support for families with children in need of essential care. Government buildings in the region have also installed the HoverTap suite in their elevator, in complete alignment with the vision of creating a safer environment for employees and the public, and a modern, energy-sensitive and environmentally friendly building.
“The HoverTap display is visually appealing and instills confidence that the property is providing a safe environment for elevator passengers, as well as being socially responsible in mitigating further risk,” said Ziraknejad. “We are excited about this great opportunity to collaborate with Dupar Controls and build the market-ready HoverTap Lift. We believe this innovation will emerge as the new elevator standard in the era of advancing smart technologies for common use.”
George Foleanu, Vice President, Dupar Controls added, “As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for hygiene-safe innovations, including the elevator buttons that are one of the most touched surfaces, is at an all-time high. Our collaboration with NZ Technologies provides a very innovative contact-free solution for elevator controls. The flexible design allows us with ease to design an elevator interface with cutting-edge touchless functionality for both new elevator installations and modernizations. This further strengthens the commitment we have made to offer the safest and most advanced solutions to meet our customers’ needs.”
For NZTech, touchless elevator buttons are just the tip of the iceberg, they hope their AI powered Touchless Image Navigation technology that took off in operating rooms and elevators will soon be rolled out into other applications, such as gas stations, bank machines, and airport kiosks.
NZ Tech YouTube Channel NZ Technologies Inc. – YouTube