The future is here and it’s simultaneously beautiful and mundane.
There are so many truly amazing aspects of modern life that we take for granted—think about the pocket supercomputer you’re probably reading this on right now, and explaining that to someone in the 1970s—because they’ve become so essential and commonplace so quickly. And there’s nothing more banal than chatting with a fellow coworker over the internet about how your day is turning out—even if the two of you happen to be elevators.
Kone, the Finnish escalator and elevator company, announced this week that it had partnered with IBM to bring Watson, the tech company’s collection of machine-learning skills and services, to human-conveyance products. Through what it’s calling “24/7 Connected Services,” Kone will offer internet-connected elevators and escalators to its customers, allowing them to monitor the transportation systems in real time to assure they’re running correctly.
To show off how the technology works, Kone wired up a few of its elevators with sensors and the Watson technology to give them a voice. The elevators can now literally chat with Kone’s servers to share what they’re up to, how well they’re running, or if they’re encountering any issues.