Internet is flooded with articles that tell us to sit less, keep moving, take the stairs, walk to work. A few days ago, there was even a research, claiming that sitting is the new smoking. Yet, we all embrace the fact that elevators take us everywhere: to work, to the car park, to the supermarket, even to the gym.
I can see how this comes. As the competition for space, especially in big cities, increases, buildings become higher and higher. All that necessary space and luxury is there, while still occupying little of the precious and very pricey city land.
As a result, the appeal of taking the stairs becomes smaller and smaller. Faced with the option to climb tens of flights of stairs, even the most health-conscious and sporty among us will give in and take the lift. Consequently, elevators need to work harder, requiring more energy and more labor-intensive maintenance.
But not all is lost. A team of creative designers at the Rombaut Frieling lab in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, came to our rescue. They developed a unique system, called Vertical Walking. The system can easily replace energy consuming elevators, and tiring stairs, providing only the benefits of both.
The system is essentially a human-powered seating technology. It comprises of rails placed upright and a special gripping system, which assists the person to go up and down between multiple floors. In order to make it work, a person sits and starts pulling up the rails.
Thanks to elasticized ropes and a special tensioned pulley system, the person not only moves upwards, but he/she is also able to rest in between. Each vertical pillar has grippers, which fix the seat while the operator is resting.
The effort that is needed to go upwards, is about 10% of what you would need if you are to climb the stairs. Vertical Walking does not require additional energy, besides the human-power. This, however, is so minimal, that anyone can use it, regardless of their fitness level. The inventors claim they successfully tested it on a person, who suffers from MS, and an amputee.
Currently, Vertical Walking system is on display in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, at the Dutch Design Week. Anyone, who would like to see it for real, can do so until the 30th of October.
Image (c) Rombout Design