Airbnb spends an average of $50 million each year to deal with guests and hosts who have bad experiences while using its service, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
Bloomberg viewed a confidential Airbnb document that said the company had spent roughly that amount on legal settlements and to repair damages to hosts’ homes in recent years.
Bloomberg spoke to current and former members of Airbnb’s safety team, who said they could spend as much money as they deemed necessary to make guests and hosts who have had traumatic experiences feel supported. They said this included booking alternative accommodation and flights, as well as paying for counseling and sexually-transmitted infection tests for victims of rape.
The Airbnb staff said the company had even paid for round-the-world vacations and dog-counseling sessions. One former safety agent described the company’s approach as “shooting the money cannon.”
Airbnb also pays to repair hosts’ homes, current and former employees told Bloomberg. This has included hiring body-fluid crews to clean up blood, paying to have bullet-holes in hosts’ walls repaired, and covering costs relating to the discovery of dismembered body parts, they said.
Staff said that as well as being instructed to take care of customers, they felt pressured to preserve the company’s image, and said they were encouraged to get people to agree to settlements in sensitive cases.
Bloomberg reported that in a 2015 case where a woman was raped in a New York Airbnb by a man who had a set of keys to the apartment, Airbnb offered a $7 million settlement that prohibited the woman from suing the company or blaming it for the assault.
Airbnb did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment. In a statement to Bloomberg, Airbnb said most of the money it spends related to property damage and that settlements above six-figures were “exceptionally rare.”
“People are naturally unpredictable, and as much as we try, occasionally really bad things happen,” Tara Bunch, Airbnb’s head of global operations, told Bloomberg.
“We all know that you can’t stop everything, but it’s all about how you respond, and when it happens you have to make it right, and that’s what we try to do each and every time,” she said.
Peloton issued a voluntary recall of its two treadmills on Wednesday after coming under intense scrutiny from US regulators to do so.
Regulators warned customers in April to stop using its $4,295 Tread+ treadmill, deeming it unsafe after it was reported that a child had died and others were injured while it was in use.
Peloton’s CEO initially denied that its Tread+ running machine has any safety issues and said the company would not recall the product. A spokesperson reiterated this in an email to Insider in April:
“A recall has never been warranted,” the spokesperson said. “The Peloton Tread+ is safe when operated as directed and in accordance with the warnings and safety instructions.”
On Wednesday, Peloton CEO John Foley said that the company had “made a mistake” in its initial response and apologized.
According the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, the independent federal agency that issued the warning about the treadmill, some of the machine’s design features make it “particularly dangerous” to use. Specifically, the agency highlighted potential problems with the height of machine’s base off the ground and well as the design of the running belt.
A spokesperson for CPSC previously told Insider that the agency was examining how the Tread+ differed from other treadmills on the market.
“We have had injuries reported concerning other treadmills but to date, we are unaware of this hazard pattern involving other treadmills. For example, many injuries involve sudden acceleration of the treadmill, which is not the issue here,” the spokesperson said.
Thousands of accidents involving treadmills happen every year in the US. In 2019, there were 22,500 emergency-room visits related to treadmills, according to CPSC data reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Why is the Tread+ different from any other treadmill?
The CPSC shared a video alongside its warning about the Tread+ to demonstrate its safety concerns.
The footage showed two children playing, apparently unsupervised, on a Peloton Tread+. One of the children, who was playing with a ball at the rear of the machine, was sucked underneath while the treadmill’s belt was moving. The child was eventually able to wriggle free.
Regulators have highlighted the space between the ground and the machine’s base as potentially posing a safety risk. The following photograph shows the size of the gap between the base of the machine and the floor, which is apparently enough space for a child to be pulled underneath, according to the footage released by the CPSC.
Regulators were also examining the design of the running belt. While most running machines on the market have a flat and continuous running belt, the Tread+ belt is made up of 59 slats that are “mounted on a ball bearing rail system,” according to Peloton.
The design is meant to make the running experience easier on the knees and legs as the slats are more shock-absorbent, according to Peloton.
Peloton customers have been debating the safety of the Tread+ in private Facebook members’ groups online in recent days. Some users suggested that the lack of a “safety bar” at the rear of the machine could be the issue.
Richard Moon, director of fitness consultancy agency Motive8, which designs and installs gyms and fitness centers, and an expert in the sector, told Insider that “safety bars” are not standard on all machines. Motive8 does not currently work with Peloton.
Moon said that he felt the best way to prevent accidents from happening would be to have a safety feature in the software that forces the machine to cut out if it feels a resistance to the point that it stops the belt from running. This could, therefore, help to prevent objects from being dragged underneath.
Peloton’s CEO John Foley previously said in a letter to Tread+ members that the company would update the software to add an access code to the machine to prevent it from being used when the safety key hasn’t been removed.
William Wallace, safety policy manager for Consumer Reports, said that the recall is “the right move for consumers.”
“As a safety advocate and close observer of the CPSC, I can say: it’s highly likely Peloton changed course because the CPSC stood its ground on behalf of consumers. The agency made a clear and compelling case for why the Tread+ puts people at risk, and people seemed to recognize that Peloton wasn’t doing all it could to keep people safe and make its customers whole.
“We’re very glad to see Peloton come to its senses, apologize for its mistakes, and offer a full refund,” he wrote in an email to Insider on Wednesday.
Consumer safety regulators issued an urgent warning on Saturday to people who own a Peloton Tread+, saying they should stop using the equipment after one child died and multiple others were injured after being sucked under the machine.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said the agency was aware of 39 incidents in which children and one pet got trapped under the machine.
In statement, it said: “CPSC staff believes the Peloton Tread+ poses serious risks to children for abrasions, fractures, and death. In light of multiple reports of children becoming entrapped, pinned, and pulled under the rear roller of the product, CPSC urges consumers with children at home to stop using the product immediately.”
Peloton on Saturday refuted the CPSC claims in a statement. It said: “The company is troubled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s unilateral press release about the Peloton Tread+ because it is inaccurate and misleading.”
It added: “There is no reason to stop using the Tread+, as long as all warnings and safety instructions are followed. Children under 16 should never use the Tread+, and Members should keep children, pets, and objects away from the Tread+ at all times.”
The Peloton Tread+ went on sale earlier this year, promising to offer runners the same “private fitness studio” experience enjoyed by users of its indoor bicycle. The Peloton Tread+ is similar to most treadmill machines, with its main differentiator being the smart screen and content library of live and recorded workout classes.
In March, Peloton CEO John Foley emailed owners of the Tread+ to inform them of a “tragic accident involving a child” and the machine, “resulting in, unthinkably, a death.”
To prevent future such accidents, he recommended adults removed the safety key after use, which would prevent the machine from operating.
“While we are aware of only a small handful of incidents involving the Tread+ where children have been hurt, each one is devastating to all of us at Peloton, and our hearts go out to the families involved,” Foley said at the time.
Narrator: This is the bathroom door on an airplane and it can save your life. Not because it’s the only thing standing between you and the guy that ate an airport burrito before he got on board. It actually has a hidden safety feature. Can you figure it out?
1. Yellow hooks
In case of an emergency that requires the pilot to land on the water, you’ll be grateful for these little yellow hooks. The number and placement of hooks on each wing vary from plane to plane, but they all do the same thing: help passengers to safety. They’re an anchor for ropes, which passengers use to steady and pull themselves across the wing especially during a water landing. The ropes and hooks can also be used to tether rafts to the plane so they don’t float away as passengers board.
2. No oxygen tanks
Let’s say your plane does depressurize. You know the drill – pull down on the mask to extend the tube, cover your nose and mouth with the yellow cup, and always put your own mask on first. But wait, why do you have to pull down on the mask? It’s not to reach your face. It’s actually to start a chemical reaction. T
here are no oxygen tanks on airplanes. They’re just too heavy and bulky to be practical. Instead, the panel above your head contains a chemical oxygen generator. It’s a small canister that holds sodium chlorate, barium peroxide, and a pinch of potassium perchlorate. And when all three mix together, the extremely hot chemical reaction lets off oxygen.
3. Fire-resistant cushion
Your seat cushion functions as a flotation device, but did you know it’s also fireproof? Let’s take this back a few decades. During a 1967 test for the first Apollo moon mission, three astronauts were killed when the interior of the capsule caught on fire. An investigation showed that the craft was filled with highly flammable materials including the foam in the seat cushions.
This led NASA to conduct a whole slew of research for a way to cover flammable things with a fire-resistant material. So in 1984, the Federal Aviation Administration issued new regulations regarding the flammability of airplane seats. And in fact, it’s estimated that 20 to 25 lives are saved each year because their seats don’t catch on fire.
4. Black triangle
Above some of those flame-resistant seats, you might see a little black or red triangle. Those triangles actually signify what’s nicknamed “William Shatner’s seat.” It’s a reference to a 1963 episode of “The Twilight Zone,” in which Shatner’s character sees a gremlin on the wing of the plane. The triangles signal to the crew which windows have the best view of the wings in case a flap malfunctions or to check to see if they’ve been deiced.
5. Little window hole
While you’re staring at the gremlin on the wing, you might notice a small hole in the window. Usually not a good feature for a window, but necessary in this case. It’s called a bleed hole. And it prevents your airplane window from blowing out. That’s because the air pressure inside the plane is so much greater than outside, which would cause any normal window to explode.
But the windows on an airplane are made up of three panes: inner, middle, and outer. The outer pane takes the pressure, the middle acts as a fail-safe, and the inner is just there so passengers don’t mess with the other two. The hole also lets moisture escape from the gaps so the windows don’t fog up or freeze.
6. Dimming lights
If the idea of your window popping out mid-flight causes you stress, just try to keep the shade up anyways. That simple action could give you peace of mind and potentially save your life. Before taking off and landing at night, crews will often dim the cabin lights and ask passengers to open their shades. This is to give their eyes time to adjust to the darkness. In case of evacuation, passengers’ eyes will already be acclimated to the blackness outside. If the lights stayed on, their eyes would need time to adjust and they’d end up wasting precious seconds stumbling blindly instead of quickly evacuating.
7. Hidden bathroom lock
While joining the mile-high club might seem like a fun idea, you won’t get the kind of privacy you might expect. In fact, a crew member could open the bathroom door at any moment no matter if you locked it or not. On the outside of most airplane bathroom doors is a little plate that says “LAVATORY.” And under that little plate is a latch that unlocks the door from the outside. This allows the crew to access the bathroom in case of an emergency.
While you’re in the bathroom, you might notice an ashtray. “But wait,” you think to yourself, “I thought it was illegal to smoke on planes!” You’re right! Smoking on an airplane has been banned on US airlines since the late 1980s and could saddle you with a fine of up to $25,000. Even with the threat of a fine, the Federal Aviation Administration isn’t taking chances. It lists ashtrays in bathrooms as legally required to meet the minimum equipment needed for a plane. Trash cans on a plane are mostly filled with flammable materials, like cocktail napkins. So tossing a cigarette butt into one of those would not be good.
After all, there are still plenty of things in a plane that aren’t covered in flame-resistant material.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in December 2019.
Bike helmets offer vital protection for all cyclists, and can save their life in the event of a crash.
The best should fit comfortably, protect from blunt and rotational impacts, and be highly visible.
Our top pick, POC’s Octal X SPIN, has great ventilation, a highly protective design, and enhanced visibility.
Bike helmets aren’t the same polystyrene buckets they used to be. They’ve since become so specialized that the helmet one might use for commuting differs greatly from what they might grab for a road bike ride – and that’s a good thing. Now, anyone can leverage that variety and specialization to find a helmet suited perfectly to their needs and ride style.
The most important bike helmet feature is that it should be highly protective. Of course, you hope to never get to the point where you need it to perform its ultimate function of protecting your head, but no matter where you live, hopping on a bike comes with plenty of injury risk.
Thanks to a rigorous set of standards, modern helmets dramatically reduce that risk. They protect your head from the force of impact but also do well to avoid limiting your vision or coming loose and falling off as you ride. Helmet manufacturers have even started going a step further and implementing new technology (MIPS and SPIN) that build off those guidelines and protect you even better.
So, what exactly is the best bike helmet? Considering we couldn’t reasonably test each helmet for how well it protected our head in a crash, we were still able to judge other important factors like fit, comfort, weight, ventilation, and value.
The POC Octal X Spin is well ventilated, comfortable, and offers enhanced visibility and safety features that benefit cyclists and commuters alike.
Pros: Lightweight, well ventilated, highly visible, enhanced coverage and SPIN system for better protection
Cons: Some riders may have to size up from the non-SPIN models, the appearance will not appeal to everyone, POC’s crash replacement policy is not as generous as some brands, expensive
Whether I’m riding a hundred miles on the road or five miles to the shops, the OCTAL X SPIN is the helmet I pick for 90% of my riding. POC is relatively new to the cycling industry, but its focus on safety, along with a distinctly Scandinavian aesthetic, won the brand a loyal following.
To make the Octal X SPIN, POC took its popular road cycling helmet, the Octal, and gave it a few tweaks to make it equally suitable for trail use. Along with a shell that fully covers the lining — a common feature of off-road helmets — POC added SPIN technology. SPIN, which stands for Shearing Pads Inside, is designed to protect against oblique impacts — something many standard helmets don’t do well.
While CPSC regulations don’t require protection against these impacts, POC offers SPIN tech to people who want protection above and beyond the legal minimum. The main function of a helmet is protecting your brain, so POC made this its main selling point for the Octal X SPIN.
Safety might be a good reason to pick the Octal X SPIN, but you won’t be let down in terms of performance either.
The Octal X SPIN covers more of the back and sides of a wearer’s head compared to a conventional road helmet. This makes the Octal a safer choice, especially for riding off-road where low-speed falls and hits to different parts of the head are likely.
Despite its larger size, the Octal doesn’t feel heavy in use, and the scales confirm it weighs in at a very competitive 267 grams for medium. The larger footprint didn’t seem to impact ventilation, either. Even on slow climbs, the helmet provides ample airflow.
The best budget
The Bern FL1 Trail combines the styling of helmets five times its price with great venting and an adjustable fit for a performance that belies its incredible value.
Pros: Great value, highly vented and adjustable, looks and weight on par with top brands
Cons: Sits a little high on the head, visor is not adjustable
It might seem counterproductive to throw hundreds of dollars on something designed to break. Luckily, all helmets approved for use in the US have to pass the same tests, meaning that while cheaper helmets might weigh more or offer less venting, they’ll protect you just as much as their higher-end counterparts.
With the FL1 Trail, the compromises are minimal. Bern uses the same in-mold 18 vent construction as its top of the line helmets but manages to save money by using a non-brand-name adjustment dial on the rear closure mechanism.
The helmet also offers a visor to protect from rain, sun, and trailside vegetation. It doesn’t feel that much different in use to more expensive helmets thanks to its light weight of just 271 grams, along with plenty of venting.
The best for racing
Giro’s Aether is a slimline helmet that doesn’t compromise on breathability, aerodynamics, or safety, making it a great choice for racers.
Pros: One of the safest helmets on the market, lightweight and aerodynamic, comes in a variety of colors to match your bike or kit
Cons: The Aether is expensive, but you only get one brain, this is more of a road style helmet and off-road riders will have to wait for mountain bike appropriate model
Giro’s long been synonymous with the highest level of performance in bike racing. Its helmets have won bike races in just about every category, and the brand has routinely innovated not just performance but also safety.
Two of the biggest trends in cycle helmets have been aerodynamics and multiple impact protection (MIPS) — each of which driven by Giro. Until recently, however, both required compromises resulting in racers often owning several helmets. Giro’s aerodynamic models were fast on the flat but tended to be heavy and poorly vented, making them a bad choice for hill climbs.
The Aether is a no-compromises racing helmet. Instead of placing the MIPS layer by a rider’s head, Giro sandwiched it between EPS foam layers, resulting in a more comfortable and aerodynamic helmet. Eleven vents make the helmet virtually disappear on climbs, too.
Of course, the Aether’s best benefit is one nobody wants to test. Impact protection with the MIPS spherical system is better than ever before and now the helmet’s fit and ventilation are uncompromised meaning that, should the worst happen, you’ll always be the best protected.
A new Spherical MIPS system is built into the helmet and provides more impact protection and less inconvenience. The adjustable Roc-Loc 5 fit system also means that the helmet retains its fit.
The best portable
The Loop uses a unique design to reduce its size by almost 50%, making it perfect for stashing in your bag when you’re not riding.
Pros: Collapses to a smaller size, portable, easy to travel with, protective design, easy to use, great for bike share fans
Cons: Not as robust as some higher-quality models
Most people who ride bike share bikes do so without helmets — it makes sense, too. It’s not easy to carry around a full-sized helmet on the off chance you decide to rent a bike. This is where the Loop comes in.
It’s as safe and comfortable as a regular helmet but when collapsed, it takes up just half the space in your bag. If you use bike share bikes regularly or as part of a daily commute, the Loop will quickly become something you never leave home without.
When in use, the Loop acts like any other bike helmet, complete with ventilation and an adjustable elastic fit strap. It passed the same set of stringent tests that determine its ability to prevent brain injury in the event of a crash or fall as any other helmet, too.
The Loop locks in its expanded position dependably and never collapsed during our testing. The hidden air vents and elastic strap make for a comfortable fit and it comes in two sizes and four colors, meaning there should be a combo for everyone.
The best aspect of the Loop is how it behaves when not in use. Instead of requiring a special tie-down on the outside of your backpack or hanging awkwardly off your messenger bag, the Loop collapses into itself and can be stashed in a bag, drawer, or desk.
At only 330 grams, the Loop is light, too. If you use bike share systems or electric scooters on a regular basis, or intend to borrow a bike while traveling, this is a fantastic alternative to riding helmetless. At less than $80, it’s also a cheap way to stay safe as you make your way around town.
The best for commuters
The Chapter from Thousand comes with an attachable 50-lumen rear taillight that’s capable of running for up to one-hour of solid light or two hours of blinking light.
Pros: Comes with a 50-lumen taillight that magnetically affixes to the back of the helmet or can attach to your bike, stylish design, features MIPS technology, easy to use clasp system
Cons: Light offers just one hour of battery life of solid light (though it does offer two hours of a blinking light)
If you bike regularly, chances are you find yourself riding in low light (or even night) conditions quite often. Riding with a light attached to your bike is a common practice but having a light affixed to your helmet helps dramatically improve your visibility. Though more helmets are starting to come standard with light functionality, our favorite is the Chapter from Thousand.
The Chapter comes with a 50-lumen rear taillight that attaches magnetically to the back, of which can also be affixed to your bike via an included adapter. Fully charged, the light stays on for up to an hour in solid light mode, and up to two hours while blinking. The ability to pop on or off the taillight gives the helmet great versatility for the everyday rider, as it doesn’t force you to lug it around every time you hop on your bike.
Other features include a small visor designed to improve your field of vision, Thousand’s signature PopLock that allows you to attach it to your bike via your bike lock, and an easy-to-use magnetic clasp system for easy on and off. It also has MIPS built into the helmet for added safety against impacts.
What also sets the Chapter apart is its modern design. Thousand’s made a name for itself designing stylish bike helmets and the Chapter continues that trend. The helmet comes in either an all-black colorway, a navy finish with a sort of tortoiseshell visor, and a vibrant matte white with a rose gold visor. — Rick Stella, fitness & health editor
The best high visibility
The Lumos fits and feels like a regular helmet, but its host of high-tech features make it a great pick for anyone who rides in the dark.
Pros: Highly visible and noticeable to drivers, wireless controls let you signal turns without taking your hands off the bars, easy setup, and a good fit
Cons: Proprietary charger, heavier than a standard helmet, lacks the adjustability of high-end helmets
For half the year, I ride home from work in the pitch black. I make every effort to light myself up like a Christmas tree with both flashing and steady rear and front lights, as well as reflective clothing. It wasn’t until I tried the Lumos helmet that I realized drivers knowing where I was is only part of the safety equation. To be truly safe, they also need to know where I’m going.
When it’s too dark for drivers to see hand signals indicating a change in direction, the Lumos uses an automatic rear warning light to signal braking and a handlebar-mounted signal to indicate changes in direction. Just like a car, the Lumos gives you red brake lights and orange turn signals.
The Lumos helmet also includes white LED lights on the front and red LEDs on the rear, meaning you’re visible even when not braking or turning. When combined with a sensible outfit and bike lights, the Lumos really does feel like the safest way to get home in the dark.
While the Lumos helmet might lack the adjustability of truly high-end road helmets, it’s designed more with commutes in mind and isn’t likely to see much use in 100-mile road races.
Overall, the Lumos is not a replacement for lights but it is a great addition to the safety toolkit of any cycle commuter. If you’re riding home in the dark, this helmet really stands out as a great choice for safety and visibility.
The lab testing process
In general, cycling helmets are designed to prevent a traumatic brain injury in the event of an impact. All helmets sold in the US must pass a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) test, meaning they satisfy certain criteria that help reduce the risk of brain injury.
There are generally four tests each helmet must pass. These tests are:
1. Peripheral Vision Test: A helmet must not block a rider’s vision
2. Positional Stability Test: The helmet must not come off a rider’s head during a fall
3. Retention Strength Test: A helmet’s straps do not stretch too much to allow the helmet to come off during an accident
4. Impact Attenuation Test: The helmet is capable of significantly reducing how much force is exerted on a wearer’s head when it hits a hard surface
In recent years, systems such as MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) and SPIN (Shearing Pads Inside) have been included in helmets to help prevent brain injuries stemming from multiple impacts or oblique collisions.
These technologies go beyond CPSC requirements but can be helpful if a specific type of collision happens.
How to shop for a bike helmet
Since the jack-of-all-trades bike helmet is mostly a thing of the past, it’s important to consider the kind of riding you plan on doing before purchasing. If you’re a road biker, you’ll likely want one that’s aerodynamic and lightweight while commuters should opt for a helmet with some sort of built-in light or visibility marker.
Even if you’re just casually riding around your neighborhood, you still want to find the correct helmet (likely one that teeters more towards comfort than aerodynamics while still offering a premium level of protection).
Above all, a bike helmet should excel at protecting your head against all sorts of impacts, be it a light crash or something more severe. Research the lab testing standards and how well certain helmets rate in those tests before buying. A good rule of thumb is to always side with helmets that have MIPS or SPIN technology, as those are the latest innovations designed to protect against a wider range of rotational forces upon impact.
How we test bike helmets
Each helmet picked in this guide went through a thorough testing process to determine if it’s worthy of a recommendation (and, ultimately, your investment). To do this, we looked at a number of factors, consisting of comfort, fit, safety features, and value. Here’s how each of those categories factored into what helmets made the cut:
Comfort: If a bike helmet isn’t comfortable while worn, you’ll be less inclined to want to throw it on, even if you’re just quickly running to the store. The best bike helmets should certainly feel like you’re wearing something but not to the point where you’re either constantly adjusting it or counting down the seconds until you can take it off.
Fit: Similar in the way an uncomfortable helmet isn’t ideal, an ill-fitting one is just as miserable. A poor fit can also jeopardize how well it keeps you safe in the event of a crash or direct impact. Many modern helmets feature adjustable sizing, too, allowing you to customize a perfectly dialed fit.
Safety features: How a bike helmet protects your head in a crash is, hands down, it’s most important feature (and the entire reason why you’re wearing a helmet in the first place). Look for safety features such as MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) or those with WaveCel technology, as these are advanced systems designed to reduce the force of impact on your head.
Value: A helmet’s value is the combination of the categories that come before it (plus, of course, its price). If you’re paying a premium sticker price, you should expect a premium product in terms of safety, fit, and comfort. Going the budget route isn’t taboo but do make sure that if you’re looking to save a few bucks, the helmet you purchase should still be effective at keeping you protected (we included a reliable budget pick that checks this box).
The coronavirus has been escaping with distressing frequency from quarantine hotels, threatening serious outbreaks. To make things worse, multiple variants of the virus, possibly more infectious and deadly, have recently been detected. This accentuates the need for robust hotel quarantine, especially in countries like Australia that have controlled community transmission.
While the hotel quarantine system has received wide attention, relatively few people have had the opportunity to experience and observe it first hand. Even fewer have been able to compare with other regions handling similar challenges. I happen to have needed to travel overseas and thus experienced quarantine in several places over the past months.
Based on my experience as an academic in architecture, I share some thoughts and observations here on how the design or redesign of buildings, infrastructure, and cities can help people overcome the health challenges created by COVID-19.
Our buildings and cities were not designed to handle such extraordinary situations as this pandemic. One consequence is their design has often made the need to touch surfaces unavoidable.
Take elevators, for example
Some of the most frequently touched surfaces in buildings are the buttons in lifts. In some buildings in China, plastic wrap is used to cover the buttons and a sticker showing the time and date of last disinfection is attached nearby. Other buildings provide tissues for people to use as disposable finger covers.
In quarantine hotels, this procedure is even more carefully managed. Staff help guests by pressing the button. This small touch area needs frequent cleaning, which calls for extra human resources.
At Baiyunshan airport in Guangzhou, I used an elevator with touch-free buttons. The keypad had infrared sensors installed next to the usual button. With just a wave of their finger over the touch-free button, users can select their destination.
Another mode free of physical screens features numbers displayed in a front-projected holographic display. A sensor detects the movement of pressing a button in the air to activate the lift.
This technology is not out of our reach. In response to the pandemic, authorities in Melbourne and Sydney have trialed touch-free buttons using infrared technology at pedestrian crossings.
One concern about touch-free buttons is the challenge they present to the visually impaired. Currently, a push-button is placed next to the infrared sensor. An alternative for people who need assistance would be to use gesture or voice commands. Other concerns include reliability and vandal-proofing.
Another sensitive touch spot is the toilet. The airport toilets I visited in Australia, China, and Singapore are equipped with touch-free features to activate the flush, tap, soap dispenser, and hand dryer. However, the doors and locks cannot function without touch. Touch-free sensors or foot pedals would probably help.
Alternatively, new materials or coatings like antimicrobial polymers could be applied in areas where touch is unavoidable. Of course, care must be taken to ensure the antiviral potency is both reliable and people-friendly.
Design solutions don’t have to be high-tech
Interestingly, touch-free public spaces do not always rely on advanced materials or sophisticated technology. In a Melbourne quarantine hotel, I noticed several bollards with foot pedals being used as hand sanitizer dispensers. These are designed to function mechanically and require no power connections.
Instead of a simple stainless steel bollard, this dispenser could be further reimagined as an artistic sculpture integrating the building’s signage at the entrance. Elsewhere, this design could be incorporated into litter bins along the streets.
Usually, for architectural design, circulation patterns are analysed to see how people reach each space and establish the relationships between different areas. For safety purposes, exits are checked to ensure people can evacuate in a timely way. To prepare for future pandemics, these studies could add analysis of touch points in both pandemic and non-pandemic periods.
From touch-free public spaces to designing for social distance and modular construction, there are still many ways the design or redesign of our buildings and cities can help to protect the public. Good design is particularly important to protect those in high-risk environments, such as workers and senior citizens in health care and aged care.
As necessity is the mother of invention, there is nothing like a period of stress to stimulate creativity, industry, and innovation.
Tiger Woods remains hospitalized in Los Angeles with injuries he sustained in a rollover car crash this week, an accident the LA County Sheriff’s Office said could have been worse if the golfer hadn’t been cushioned by his SUV’s interior.
Woods was driving a Genesis GV80, the brand’s first SUV. Genesis is a luxury brand sold by Korean automaker Hyundai.
During Tuesday’s crash, the vehicle’s front end and and bumpers were destroyed, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said during a press conference. But the interior of the car was not severely damaged, helping Woods survive, Villanueva said.
“The interior of the vehicle was more or less intact which kind of gave him the cushion to survive what otherwise would’ve been a fatal crash,” Villanueva said.
Genesis is the sponsor of the Genesis Invitational, a PGA Tour tournament that Woods was hosting at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.
The company didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment. But, Genesis Motor North America CEO Mark Del Rosso said in a statement Tuesday he was “heartbroken to hear that Tiger was in an accident this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
Some of the GV80’s safety features include an omnidirectional anti-collision technology that analyzes driving conditions as they occur, according to the Genesis GV80 website.
Additionally, a 10-Airbag System is installed that includes “a center airbag between the two front seats, to help prevent collisions between passengers and subsequent impact injuries,” it said.
The GV80 is also equipped with a blind-spot collision avoidance technology that evasively steers the car to safety to avoid a collision in case the drive is changing lanes or when another vehicle is changing lanes and is approaching towards the car’s rear, the company said on its website.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t released crash-test results or overall safety ratings for the GV80. While the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said on Wednesday on Twitter that the GV80 is currently being tested and results should be announced next month.
The vehicle has a starting price of $48,500 for entry level models. The premier 3.5T Prestige model is priced at over $70,000.
The 2021 GV80 received strong reviews from Car and Driver, with a 10/10 rating. “With a sumptuously appointed and whisper-quiet cabin, the 2021 GV80 is exactly the flagship SUV the Genesis brand needs to be taken seriously by American consumers,” the magazine wrote.