Smart Office Tech
The Internet of Things (IoT) sounds like a far-fetched science fiction concept, but the transition to smart work environments has already started. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs are filling their modern offices with intelligently designed products that increase technological connectivity and boost productivity.
If your business feels stale and outdated, an infusion of tech-heavy office furniture and innovative tools might be just the boost you need to project the image of a successful startup that's on the cutting edge. Here are just a few awesome innovations happening now in smart office tech.
Smart office furniture
Smart office furniture has been kicked around a lot in the last few years. While it's still in the early adoption phase, it's already making an impact. The Stir Kinetic Desk ($2,990 for the consumer version) is one of the most compelling pieces of smart office furniture, and it's a great way to instantly update the look and feel of your office, even if you work from home.
The Stir Kinetic Desk can be used as a sitting or standing desk. It features an inlaid touchscreen control, and it's built using cloud-based architecture that stores user profiles (ideal for hot desk offices) and height preferences, plus it collects data and learns about your work style. There's also a handy dock to keep your power cords perfectly organized and in place. The company claims that after 20 days of use, the desk learns your habits and optimizes your work experience.
If you've been sitting for too long, the Stir Kinetic Desk will gently rise and fall to remind you to change positions, and it can be configured to connect with your laptop, tablet or even fitness tracker to give you clear data on how long you sit and stand and how many calories you burn. Offices can also utilize the Stir Analytics dashboard to review aggregated and anonymized information regarding staff usage and health.
Do you ever wish you could be in two places at once? Thanks to telepresence robots you can be. Telepresence robots make it possible to project a physical presence despite being in a remote location.
There are several companies paving the way toward a robot-filled workplace (Padbot, Double Robotics and VGo, for example), and most of their designs feature a motorized self-balancing stand topped with a tablet, a wide-angle camera, a speaker and a microphone. The user of the bot can move around, talk to people and interact as if in person.
While it seems gimmicky at first, telepresence bots are already being used in educational settings and in corporate America. In fact, some companies are using telepresence robots to minimize travel costs. If you employ a lot of remote workers or bicoastal employees, having a few robot body doubles for meetings, walk-throughs and conferences could be a real solution to your travel budget woes.
Interactive presentation and collaboration tools
As a technology, projectors aren't quite finished yet, but it's only a matter of time before overheads are replaced with interactive walls and smart boards. If you run a business that relies on pitching clients in person and you have some cash to spare, an interactive touch wall (from SpinTouch, Planar or U-Touch) might be what you're looking for.
Video walls come in all different sizes and can be installed seamlessly into your workspace. Companies use these types of built-in displays to showcase portfolios, run promotional videos and play specific presentations.
If you're in a creative industry and want some technology that's more suited to collaboration and brainstorming, an interactive digital whiteboard is an exciting potential product. Smart boards have been used in classrooms for years and now they're going corporate (with added functionality, of course).
Google's new Jamboard ($5,000) and Cisco's competing Spark Board ($4,990) are the first well-priced, business-focused interactive digital boards to hit the market. These touch boards allow multiple users to view the display (even remotely), make notes, give presentations, host video conferences and more. Of all the innovations on this list, smart boards are likely to propagate the fastest due to their immediate utility and rapidly lowering price.
Biometric scanning describes any technology that uses your own biology as the primary identification factor; this could mean retinal eye scanning, fingerprint scanning or even facial recognition. If you have a new laptop or smartphone, chances are you're already using some form of biometric scanning.
The biometric scanning industry is growing fast; according to independent research conducted by Markets and Markets, the biometric system market will reach $32.73 billion by 2022, which is a compound annual growth rate of 16.79 percent (from 2016 to 2022).
Biometric scanners are popular because they eliminate the need for entering passwords, swiping cards and even carrying around keys. Employers love biometric scanning for time punching because it eliminates buddy-punching issues.
Even simple fingerprint-recognition door locks can save time and money (no more replacing locks or keys). If you're ready to up the tech at your business, check out the biometric scanning solutions from companies such as Face Value Technologies, Synel Americas, FingerTec and Eyelock.
Wireless Phone-charging stations
While it doesn't totally fall under IoT, wireless charging is probably the most practical and affordable way to update your office right now. With more companies enacting BYOD policies, setting up a few wireless phone-charging stations around your workspace just makes sense.
Clients will appreciate having the ability to quickly charge their phones while meeting with you, and wireless charging pads don't interfere with your ability to use your phone, so you can still pick up calls and check your notifications.
Eventually, charging will be automatic, but for now, companies such as Belkin ($34.99) and Samsung ($24.99) are making convenient wireless charging pads for an affordable price. There are also more stylish options available: IKEA makes a gorgeously Danish-looking charging pad ($69.99) that would be perfect in a shared space or open office, the Incipio Ghost 210 ($83.05) has a sleek minimalist vibe, and the Tylt Vu ($29.99) comes in lots of fun colors.