Improved escalator handrails

I’ve been told that there isn’t currently a market for this idea (large construction projects that feature escalators are currently highly price sensitive). Perhaps somebody can find a use for it though.

We live in a world where is seems like every available space already features advertising. In many cases, people have learned to tune it out, to the extent that ad-tech companies constantly have to adjust their methodology in order to find new ways to attract the attention of viewers.

There’s one place where people are potentially a captive market for up to a minute at a time – while riding up and down an escalator (elevators already frequently feature advertising). The beginning and end plates of escalators occasionally feature ads, and I’ve seen inserts in the folding portion of the steps on a few occasions. Typically though, the handrails are left alone, due to the expense of updating adverts (i.e. the rail would have to be transparent, and the entire escalator would likely need to be disassembled in order to insert or remove ads).

The gradual improvement in bendable e-paper type screens could lend itself to this application though; if the entire handrail was formed from a transparent plastic, with a screen underneath it, it could be a cost effective and attractive forum for advertising, particular of a highly localized nature.

Some possibilities that come to mind:

  • Stores within a mall could, for example, show coupons (possibly with a QR code, for people to scan on their phones).
  • The railing could be touch sensitive, to allow interaction with people riding the escalator – for instance, displaying a hand-shape, in order to get a person to hold onto the railing; when touched, a “screen” area could be displayed. This could be gamified in a variety of ways.
  • News, time of day, mall events, and other pieces of information could also be displayed.

I have a variety of tangentially-related ideas (i.e. for how to construct the system, as well as other applications for it), if anyone is interested.

 

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