office life in motion

E-mailing in motion

Google fooled me and others on April 1 with their new product Gmail Motion. Their video showed how you could send emails via Gmail without using a keyboard, simply by making gestures. The reason why they fooled a lot of people with this joke is that it’s not entirely fiction but very close to reality. Members of the ICT MxR Lab at the University of Southern California have made their own gesture-based system for handling email utilizing Kinect’s motion-sensing technology.

And there’s already mind-controlled software called Mind Mouse, which works with an ‘Emotiv’ headset. The software lets users navigate a computer, click to open programs, and compose and send e-mail—using only thought. According to Aaron Dignan, author of Game Frame, the next generation manager will ask: ‘How many people in my office today are engaged, bored, or thinking about other stuff?’.

Mouseless offices

Scary? Well, fact is we are slowly saying goodbye to our desktops, our mouse and keyboards in the office. Touch screen computers (iPad like) are slowly entering the office space. This means our office desk as we know it will probably be completely transformed over the next five years. Isn’t it strange that offices are still built last century style with personal desks while we can already take our laptops and iPads everywhere? Who needs a phone on a desk while your mobile phone turns into a land line the moment you enter the building? And who needs a fully equipped conference room when we can show our Keynote presentation from our laptop, remoted by our smartphone, beamed via a MiliPro?

Next gen offices

In the next five years we will crave for offices that respect our mobility. Like Creative Valley, Dtac Headquarters Bangkok, Google Head Office, FaceBook Head Office. These office buildings still have personal desk space but the open and “mobile” spaces are far more prominent.

Let’s take this a step further and look at the office over the next 10 years or so.

Personal desks will be gone. Health regulations support offices that stimulate body-moded programmes. In those offices there will be huge open spaces with wall covering computer screens for short interactions like handling email and social updates by waving your arms and moving your body. Even games can be played in full body mode, for a moment of relaxation.

Since “cloud collaboration” will be a normal part of office life, you can meet staff, contractors, agents and clients from all over the world in secure cloud-collaboration workspaces. In rooms that fit the number of people involved: Many-to-Many, Many-to-One, One-to-Many, One-to-One.

Office life as a whole will become more global, but cultural differences must still be respected and met. So before you have your meeting with the staff from India, you immerse yourself in one of the culture rooms for a surround audio visual status update on local habits, news and gossip. So you know who to greet first, and you have something to chitchat about before getting to business.

Overall, future offices will need to provide room for real workers and virtual workers at the same time. Offering space for people to physically move around to control data and offering a platform to grasp cultural differences. The office should also support the social features of every coworker: his social status online (Twitter, Google and FaceBook) is as equal important as his company status.

An interesting development in the future office life will be time. Or more specific: real time. A time machine area that would transcend different time zones might the next big thing.

Nathalie Brähler is (interim) Digital Creative Director and founder of Cultural Oil


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