• Overview

    The goal of this design research project is to explore and reimagine existing elevator experiences people have. It was my Master’s capstone project.  

  • Design challenge

    Improve how people interact and experience elevator travel and provide a unique and memorable experience to the travelers

  • TEAM

    Individual project


    The project was completed within a span of 4 months.


    Online Survey
    Contextual Observations
    Customer Journey Map
    Personal and Expert Interviews
    Research Collections
    Research Analysis
    Concept Sketches
    Final Concepts


As per National Elevator Industry, Elevators in the United States make 18 billion passenger trips per year. They form an important means of travel for a huge population each day. It got me thinking to make elevator travel more interesting and engaging. Through Interviews, surveys, observations and other methodologies, I studied existing elevator travel and generated concepts to improve its experiences.    
Source : National Elevator Industry ,Inc. http://www.neii.org/presskit/pressmaster.cfm?link=7
The research questions were based on few assumptions about elevator travel. 


Online Survey
I conducted an online survey asking people 1) about their experiences inside and outside an elevator, 2) their interaction with elevator control panel, 3) any prior distinguishing incidents during elevator travel. 16 people responded to the online survey. 
Note: Figure I, II, IV represent the top three answers provided by the survey respondents. 
From online survey I learnt about following things:- 
1) While waiting for elevators and during travelling,  people look at the elevator status or engage themselves in random activities like browsing their phone or listening to music etc.

2) One third of people find elevator control panels and buttons confusing.                                                                        
Contextual Observations
I did in situ contextual observation over a period of 1 week observing 100 people using Wells library's west and east tower elevators in Bloomington, Indiana. Some of the findings are listed below:
  • Calls got disconnected inside the elevator
  • Very limited interaction between the group of people standing inside elevator.
  • People tend to get impatient and frustrates at floors where there were no one to board. In such situation they push close button to close the doors.
  • People didn't know which car is going to arrive as there was no feedback whatsoever to indicate this.
  • No visual indication of the elevator call button being pressed. This was confusing for many people.
  • Looking a elevator status panel and the floor, checking random things on their phone and talking to a known persons were some of the behavior people exhibit.
Pressing an elevator call button
Customer Journey Map
I conducted personal interviews with 10 random people in University's library and two expert interviews, one with expert from elevator industry and other with a professor with research interest in elevators. The insights of both category of interviews are summarized below:
Personal Interviews
  • 8 out of 10 people said they hate waiting for the elevators or the crowding inside it.
  • 7 out 10 people said they that either watch the elevator status or check some stuff on their phones.
  • 0 out of 10 people mentioned that they look at what other people are doing or strike a conversation.
  • 3 out of 10 people said that they press the call button multiple times.
  • Quote : “I don’t like to gaze at people faces. That’s kind of strange. It’s good to keep doing what you are doing or at least pretend to do so.”
  • Quote : “I don’t like waiting for too long. Especially when the elevator stops at lot of stoppages in between it takes much longer than what one would think” 
Expert Interviews 
  • Revolutionary technology called as Destination Dispatch System is the biggest innovation in the elevator industry.
  • “30 sec” is the average waiting time after which people start feeling impatient and frustrated.
  • OTIS horizontal and vertical navigation, Schindler Destination dispatch system and Digigage “Virtual Window”
  • Conflict between treating elevators as public or private space 
  • There is no transparency in terms of how the elevator is working
  • Changing the content frequently to keep the travelers engaged.
Digigage Virtual Window
Destination Dispatch + PORT technology
LG elevator prank
OTIS Odyssey System

Research Insights

Here are some of the key insights derived from primary research


I identified key problems in the elevator travel experience, traveler's feelings and potential solutions. From the potential solutions I chose “Digital Engagements” and “Engaging Interactions” for concepts generation.

Concept Sketches

I identified key problems in the elevator travel experience, traveler's feelings and potential solutions. From the potential solutions I chose “Digital Engagements” and “Engaging Interactions” for concepts generation.

Final Concepts

In next step I created more detailed illustrations for my final concepts.


I used the technique of  bodystorming to test some of the final concepts I generated. This usability evaluation method helped me learn how participants engaged in different interactions.
Promoting Independent Living
designing for elevator experiences
space, place and threshold
uncomfortable interactions
constellation builders