Daily interaction with technology is inevitable in this world. Sure, Siri still seems to barely understand what you’re asking of it, and driverless cars feel like they’ll always be “five years in the future.” Don’t even get me started on whatever the heck VR is.
That said, there are machines in life we expect to work, all of the time, every time. The washing machine will finish its cycle, your car is supposed to start (and stop) when you tell it to, and the ceiling fan won’t come spinning off its base, sending wooden blades flying around the room at 100mph. These are the machines that have been around since the steam age, the turn of the century. They’ve been proven for over 100 years. Sure, some people way back when may have been hurt in the development of these daily staples, but that’s ancient history.
You rarely think twice about jumping in an elevator. Whether it’s a three floor trip up to the dentist or 50 floors to get to the office, as you walk into the steel box that will propel you vertically at upwards of 45mph and press your floor, the ensuing ride is almost always uneventful. Besides, more often than not, multiple elevator trips are required to get where you need to be.
According to the National Elevator Industry, there are over 900,000 elevators in use throughout the United States.
via: Getty ImagesWhile most trips are only four to five floors in vertical distance, or 40 some odd feet, it is estimated that elevators across the country carry a total of 18 billion passengers over 1.36 billion miles over the course of a year. Per a 2011 LA Times piece, “[Elevator] trips result in about 27 deaths annually, according to estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That works out to a fatality rate of 0.00000015% per trip." So, it’s safe to say that elevators are in fact the safest way to get from point A to point B. Safer than walking upstairs to bed, and most definitely safer than hopping in the car.
I stepped onto the elevator of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas last week, selected my floor (50), politely shuffled into the back left corner, and assumed my position as one of ten riders for the trip.
via: Getty ImagesI was in town for CES, Las Vegas’ biggest convention of the year, where the most innovative and futuristic technology from around the world is on display for all to gawk at. As the steel doors shut, a single arm came shooting through the space between the floor and the elevator bank. It was my friend Vince. As the door closed, Vince sidled up next to me and we chatted about the previous night’s events — boring, flat, small talk due to the finite nature of elevator rides. As we rose through the building, I glanced at the LED screen that displayed the floors we were passing — 44, 45, 46 — before looking back at Vince.