Intro to Phys Comp: Observation

I chose the elevator at ITP to observe for this week's assignment. One aspect I have always enjoyed about an elevator is that it gave a physical feedback that is uncommon in most other technologies: momentum. Although momentum is found in almost every mode of transportation, an elevator is different because there are usually no windows. You must rely on your sense of momentum to determine if something has gone horribly wrong.

Assumptions and expected results:

People request an elevator to go up or down. They get in the elevator and select the floor they wish to go on. Once enough time has gone by with no interruptions, the elevator goes to the desired floors. The doors open and the person exits. It is always used when a person needs to travel vertically within a building.

Some observations:

  • A solo ride takes approximately 20 seconds from door opening to stepping outside of the door on the fourth floor. A group ride right before class takes 45 seconds, more than double of that.
  • Riders almost always face towards the door, unless they are with friends.
  • The time it takes to wait for an elevator varies depending on the current status of the elevator. It has taken up to 95 seconds at times.
  • The behavior of the users also depend on the order they get into the elevator. Early riders will always press the button they wish to get on. Late riders were more often to check the light that indicates a pressed floor, but they usually press the button regardless. 

A design flaw I noticed is that the complexity of the elevator increases depending on the number of people simultaneously using it. There is also the issue of people having to squeeze through others in order to get off on their floors. This is a big problem with the large elevator in ITP due to it's shape. Unlike most elevators which have the door centered, the large elevator at ITP is off to one side of the rectangular space inside. This makes it harder for the other riders to move aside for riders that need to disembark the elevator.

In the readings, there was detail on how aesthetics can make a design feel so much better to a user, even if the functionality remains the same. I can immediately relate to this in regard to elevators. The elevator for my apartment building is very new. It's silver, shiny, and glossy. Even though the functionality between the elevator at ITP and my apartment are approximately the same, the elevator in my apartment feels cold yet luxurious while the elevator in ITP feels familiar and a bit rundown.