Contactless Future: An Innovative Response to the Spread of COVID-19

25th August, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to review everyday actions and develop new behaviors to combat the spread of disease. One example is the act of touching: the pandemic has made us hesitant about placing our fingers and hands on even the most innocuous surfaces. In Thailand, Mitsubishi Electric has responded to this situation by promoting a series of technologies that promise a future where we may no longer need to touch anything in order to use them.

COVID-19 in Thailand

A legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be reduced physical contact. Even as in-person gatherings and socializing resume, there is heightened awareness of the risk inherent in contact with not only other people, but also with surfaces.

We have come to accept that in many aspects of daily life, we cannot avoid touching surfaces — whether when pushing elevator buttons, operating ATMs, or using public restrooms and transport. Mitsubishi Electric's response to the pandemic in Thailand has been to challenge this accepted norm and find new solutions.

Thailand’s first reported case of COVID-19 was in January 2020. As in nearly every country, the disease proceeded to spread rapidly, becoming an epidemic as it worked its way through the public. In response, the Thai government introduced measures firstly to prevent and block infection and secondly to prevent outbreaks of the disease. These included lockdowns, curfews, closures of facilities, and work-from-home decrees, which, like in many countries, had mixed success.

Contactless Elevator Solutions

As the virus continued to spread, there was clearly a need for other behavioral changes to help slow down the pandemic. For example, people were still pressing elevator buttons multiple times every day, whether in their condominium buildings or in their workplaces, such as offices, hospitals, educational institutions, and retail environments — a likely source of surface-based infection.

Up to this point, society had largely viewed touchless technology as a novelty. Mitsubishi Elevator Thailand recognized the technology’s potential to save lives and understood the urgent need to reduce the need for touch in its elevator units. The company responded by promoting a range of solutions aimed at introducing a so-called touchless society.

Chief among them is Facial Recognition Access Control, which dispatches elevators and determines the correct floor for passengers based on their facial identity. It can be installed in new or existing elevator systems and carries the benefit of added security. This is also the case for Hologram, a floor-selection function based on holographic projection technology. By removing the need for a passenger to press a button or receive notification of their input, Hologram allows a person to use an elevator without having their destination revealed to the other passengers.

Further innovations include CapSense, also known as Touchless Sensor, which is a solution that removes the need to directly touch buttons by reading capacitive signals or charges from our fingers. In effect, a passenger can select their desired floor by simply pointing at the button.

The Infrared Sensor operates in the reverse direction. With this solution, the buttons emit photoelectric sensor and are activated when the user blocks the waves with their hand or finger. There is also Hand Gesture Calling Landing, a system of embedded light sensors that detect hand movement: a hand waved upwards or downwards summons the elevator accordingly.

The Future is Hands-Free

Mitsubishi Elevator Thailand’s solutions also extend to escalators. The UV Handrail Disinfection System automatically sterilizes the handrail through UV radiation while it is in operation, killing up to 99.9% of bacteria, a figure certified by the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR).

Some customers in Bangkok that have adopted these means of combatting infection include Big Gas Technology’s company building, Central Chidlom Department Store and Condominium Lumpini by L.P.N. Development PCL. The operators of these premises have already come to see touchless solutions as a standard requirement for public buildings.

These technologies look set to be the way of the future. Tenders for elevator and escalator equipment already require touchless solutions as a point of entry. Regardless of the status of COVID-19, technology that minimizes the threat of viral transmission and contributes to the proliferation of smart buildings will be a focal area for Mitsubishi Electric in the coming years.

The content is true and accurate as of the time of publication.Information related to products and services included in this article may differ by country or region.

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