The Lifestyle Home Elevator from U.K.-based Terry Lifts is an impossibly clever home-help device for old folks or for anyone who can no longer use the stairs.
But better than the product itself is the Reuters news report about it, which is just about the most English thing you’ll see today. To watch it is to enjoy wall-to-wall carpeting, mugs of tea placed artfully in the shot, and highly inaccurate references to both Star Trek and Doctor Who.
The lift itself is ingenious. The glass-paneled podule requires little more than a hole in the floor between rooms, and it runs up and down on a pair of rails that hide the hydraulic mechanism from sight. That last part is important, because one of the elevator’s main features is its shaft-less design. This means that you can park it upstairs when you’re downstairs, and vice-versa, leaving nothing but the rails to spoil the scene.
The other neat feature—necessary because of the shaft-less design–is the microswitches on the bottom. These trigger an emergency brake as soon as one of them is touched. That means that you can’t crush a pet cat, but it also means that a strategically-placed toy can stop grandma from coming down to breakfast.
Should there be a mid-journey power outage, a battery backup allows the journey to finish safely.
Really though, the stars of this spot are Sally and Behram from Hertfordshire, just north of London. Their elevator’s roof is carpeted to match the beige swath that covers the floor of their bedroom, their love of tea is on proud display, but best of all, they have anecdotes. Not only do Sally and Behram’s neighbors think that the clear glass elevator looks like Doctor Who’s TARDIS (actually a blue wooden box with a lamp on top), but the video interviewer compares it to “the pod-like elevators featured in the Star Trek TV series.” Star Trek’s elevators look just like regular elevators, albeit with noisier doors.
Even Terry Lifts’ John McSweeney gets in on the act. After making the shower cubicle comparison, he told Reuters that “The second reaction is the pod’s design does look like the, you know, ‘Beam me up, Scotty,’ Star Trek.you know you go in, there’s two people at a time maximum, usually one, and then off it disappears.”
Let’s be clear: Star Trek’s transporters are no more pod-based than its elevators. And really, has nobody read Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator?
Joking aside, this elevator lets people stay in their home when they might otherwise have to abandon it for a single floor apartment. It’s also way better than the usual answer—the stairlift. A stairlift works fine, but takes up a lot of space, and is really only good for sending a seated human being up and down the stairs. A proper elevator, on the other hand, can transport two people at a time (the maximum load is 250kg or 550 pounds), or even shift heavy goods between floors.
As an accessibility device, then, it’s hard to beat. That the promotional and news items surrounding it are so hilarious is just a bonus.