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A new experience of intuitive design 

Wave Escalator - Red dot winner of 2011

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An escalator is used in day-to-day life, but many accidents had happened on using escalators as people lost balance and cause accidents because he or she could not feel the edge of steps. To solve this problem, we design to add a new feature on each staircase to dispel fears. Our design was recognized with a Red dot design Award in 2011.


A study report shows that there are approximately 10,000 injuries related to escalator accidents each year in the United States, and this number keeps rising.   West J Emerg Med.

10,000 injuries/year in the US.

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- Source from West J Emerg Med.

Among them, the ages of 3-15 and 61-90 are the high occurrence ages of escalator accidents.  These groups have difficulty to take the first step while the escalator is continuously moving. It is difficult for them to pick up, so they generally fear to use an escalator and be more prone to get injured, while compared with other age groups.

What reason makes them fear to take an escalator?

When is the right time to take the step? Passengers first observe the distance on the continuous moving steps of an escalator while delivering a message to the brain to control the legs to step on. Everybody will take different time to do this whole process. For kids and senior passengers, their rhythm may either be too fast or too slow that may easily miss the right moment to step on. They will be hesitated, thus losing confidence that can lead to injuries. 

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So we figure out some solutions to improve the situation, such as "add a visible yellow line on each step of the escalator"; or "slow down escalator speed and prolong safety time"... None of this, however, can address people's against fear to use escalators. The fundamental problem with people being afraid to take an escalator is that they think the experience is too complex.


Essentially improving the user experience to make the whole process simpler, easier and more intuitive.


What should we do to solve people's perplexity like this? The answer is making people breakthrough this issue by processing subconsciously. Just like to blink our eyes or breathe with subconsciousness.

We have simulated various kinds of danger that might emerge while conducted field survey at shopping centers or subway stations.


We decided to solve this problem by designing a slight incline edge on each level of an escalator. The "WAVE escalator" intuitively alerts its passengers if he or she happens to stand across a step's edge, they will be alerted to step toward slightly and quickly to avoid falling. 

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WAVE escalator - This design pulls a bump part at the junction of stair steps to alert passengers that the feet can feel the bump, avoiding the situation to cross two steps at the moment. This helps to minimize the danger. Also, all these outcomes with the sense of feeling by the foot, without a need to see and search the "safe" spot on each staircase. WAVE ESCALATOR is an intuitive design for an user to be able to understand and use immediately without thinking consciously about how to do it. 


If this design for escalator were used widely in the society, children, seniors and disables would not be afraid to take it. The bump design on each edge that makes use of the discomfort when people' step on touch can provide subconsciousness to alert the passenger to avoid injuries. 

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Help to remind passengers that the luggage places correctly (usually situated in between two stairs may lose balance and slip down due to the altitude changes while escalator goes up)

A sense of touch reminder (Protect a passenger from accidentally falling if he or she steps in between two staircases)

Anti-Skidding (while walking on the escalator)


The concept design, we didn't have an opportunity to build a real product for passengers. However, we interviewed the passengers that we talked before they have this problem. They engage in our new design, and this design let them feel confident and comfortable to take an escalator.

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