The Future of the Workplace is Now
Welcome to the future. When you look at today’s technology like self-driving cars, robotics and artificial intelligence, it’s easy to think we’ve landed in a sci-fi film. But go ahead and pinch yourself — this is reality. However, futuristic technology isn’t just about devices that look like they could have come out of Star Trek. There are some things that were at the top of the “predictions for the future” lists just a couple of years ago – check out this Forbes article from November 2019 – “The 5G And IoT Revolution Is Coming: Here’s What To Expect,” for example. In predicting the futuristic technologies 5G and the IoT would make possible, the article noted, “5G can send data to and from as many as a million devices per square kilometer, compared to 100,000 devices per square kilometer using today’s 4G networks. When those devices are not just smartphones and tablets, but also industrial sensors, wearables, medical devices and vehicles, businesses and governments can provide services and capabilities that were never before possible.”
Yesterday’s predictions are today’s reality. As we begin 2022, those devices are busy providing services in highly connected school, work and home environments, making so much possible that it feels like the future is truly here.
The classroom of the future
Today’s students don’t even remember a time before the internet, and they go to school in an always-on culture. Technology can be used to create an educational experience that is engaging and interactive, with high bandwidth, low latency connections made possible by 5G allowing schools to rethink their approach to education. Immersive, on-demand content can be presented on smartboards and interactive displays that have built-in connectivity, combining projected content with touchscreen computer input. Some devices allow several users to write on the screen at once, and can even turn handwritten input into readable, editable text that can be shared with students directly from the display during or after lessons — no more struggling to transcribe everything that’s been written on the board during a lesson.
When teachers are able to work in connected classrooms, they can share information with their students in a way that’s engaging and interactive, transforming any space into an advanced classroom environment. In addition, as faster internet speeds become more available in more locations, students can take advantage of advanced lessons in a remote learning setting as well. In a future in which remote learning is likely to play a permanent role, this will allow all students, no matter their location, to collaborate and engage.
The meeting room of the future
Faster internet connections and IoT devices don’t just bring schools into the future — they’ve made meeting rooms smarter and more collaborative as well. The future of meeting rooms is about providing people with the tools they need when they need them. One day, for example, you might walk into a meeting room and sit down at a desk with your own PC or tablet, but the next day you might need to stand up to give a presentation. You may do this by seamlessly, wirelessly connecting your device to the display, but you could also do it directly from the display itself. Windows Collaboration Displays, which are displays certified by Microsoft to use tools like Microsoft Office and Teams, allow users to get right to work using familiar software. With fast connections to the organization’s network and cloud repositories as well as the internet, there’s no more of the oh-so-last-year frustrations of USB drives or buffering videos.
The near future seems likely to include COVID precautions such as distancing and hybrid offices. Displays with screens up to 80” can allow on-site workers to spread out comfortably, while state-of-the-art microphones combined with 4K displays can incorporate remote workers into the meeting without having them feel isolated.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), another technology of the future, is an important piece of meeting room technology as well. AI allows IoT devices to do everything from automatically adjusting temperature, air quality and light to using motion sensors to detect movement and ensure the smart display’s microphone is focused on them. It can also collect data about how many people are in each meeting room throughout the day so the layout can be adjusted accordingly. This gives businesses the ability to easily respond to quickly changing requirements and gives them control over how their meeting rooms are designed and utilized without wasting resources on unused or overcrowded spaces.
The printer of the future
Are you thinking “printer” and “future” are oxymorons? Not necessarily. Printers are smart devices too, and multifunction printers that also scan documents are important network input devices. With apps, it’s possible to control print and scan jobs from phones or tablets, and documents can be scanned directly to cloud locations. This may not be new, you say, and while it’s true these capabilities have been around for a while, better connectivity and faster speeds make the process go much more quickly, meaning that digitalization is a little more in reach every day. Additionally, the hybrid office, which is likely to be the norm for many organizations, benefits from connected, smart printers that can receive and hold print jobs from remote workers who can release them once they’re on site. As connections become faster and more reliable, users will feel more comfortable trusting their documents to these “smart” devices.
Embrace the future
We may not be shooting around the galaxy at warp speed or transporting our atoms from place to place just yet, but we are living in the future. Predictions of just a few years ago are now here, so let’s take advantage of that futuristic world that is 2022.