Photos: Automation invades the office: 13 workplace tools to give an intelligence upgrade
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1. Meeting Owl
Looking for ways to make your office faster and smarter? Check out these 13 items for a workplace boost. For more ideas, including software options, see how other companies are utilizing emerging tech.
For more engaging video conferences, Meeting Owl makes sure everyone has their moment in the spotlight. The owl-shaped 360-degree camera sits at the center of a meeting, moving to focus on whoever is speaking. Remote workers connected via video can see each individual, much like an in-person meeting, instead of a static image.
For freelancers or professionals who like to know exactly how they’re spending their time, ZEI provides a physical reminder to track hours. Each panel of the multi-sided die can be assigned a task, and can be flipped up when the user is working on that assignment. The tangible item can be used alone, or connected to time-tracking software like iCal.
Need to breathe easier at work? Wynd, a smart air purifier, can help make your workplace personal bubble’s air a bit cleaner. The device removes dust, allergens, and particulate pollution from your personal space, monitoring your environment and cleaning as needed.
Since the device is portable and about the size of a water bottle, business travelers can take it on trips with them as well.
4. Humanoid robots
Swapping human secretaries with humanoid robots may not currently guarantee an intelligence upgrade, but the switch can free up human time and streamline duties for the administrative staff.
For example, Dallas-based Mobiliya uses robots as secretaries. They can direct visitors, book appointments, and track human footsteps.
6. View Dynamic Glass
Even the windows in your office can get an automated upgrade. View Dynamic Glass uses charged glass that offers multiple tint shades, adjusting to let in the preferred amount of light. While it isn’t going to automatically make a workflow smoother, natural sunlight amounts to happier and more productive employees, plus no one has to deal with blinds throughout the day.
7. Adobe Scan
A smartphone app can replace a bulky office scanner. Adobe Scan lets users snap a photo of a physical document to digitize it into a PDF, and send it to the Adobe Document Cloud. Unlike a scanner, the app is portable, so business travelers or remote workers can use it too.
Landlines are falling by the wayside, with some companies and software options stepping in to streamline and replace traditional office landline phone systems. RingCentral is one example, offering over 100 integrations for its cloud-based software. Employees can check their voicemail via Alexa, or use Gmail to switch from back-and-forth emails to a voice chat without finding someone’s contact information.
With more offices opting for open floorplans and workstations, privacy or a quiet spot can be difficult to find. Jabbrrbox seeks to fix that, with its one or two-person workbooths meant for distraction-free work. Equipped with charging ports and with one option including a Google Chromebase, employees can stay connected while potentially increasing productivity.
10. PX Headphones
On the subject of distracting workplace noises, sometimes all you need are a pair of headphones. The wireless PX headphones have an adjustable level of noise-canceling technology, so wearers can customize just how much sound is blocked out. Users can have a light amount of blur to the outside sound, or can block everything out.
Dubbed as a “real-life Star Trek communicator badge,” Onyx is a wearable smart walkie-talkie. When connected with the Orion App and either Wi-Fi or cell service, users can track their team’s location and see who’s online, along with voice conversations. The Orion Translator Bot also enables real-time English-Spanish translation for business travelers or international companies.
There are few things more stress-inducing than running to an empty meeting room for a video call to quickly find out someone else already had the room booked, leaving you scrambling for a quiet spot. E-paper display tool JOAN is one potential solution, as it hangs outside of each meeting room and shows that day’s room availability.
The tool can be helpful for offices where different teams use the same conference rooms, or just for keeping everyone on the same page.
iManage Extract uses AI to analyze physical documents, identifying and storing important information in the cloud for quick retrieval. Humans spend less time reading each document to find the information they need, saving time for other tasks and less note-taking.
It also means fewer papers to keep on hand, leading to a cleaner workspace with fewer distractions and random office supplies like binder clips.
5. Digital assistant smart speakers
Whether you prefer the Alexa-driven Amazon Echo or the Google Home, digital assistants can help businesses with a range of tasks, from day-to-day scheduling to running data analyses. Between pre-existing skills and actions and the ability to develop something customized, business leaders can utilize the home-centered device to boost productivity.
- Cheat sheet: Alexa for Business (TechRepublic)
- How to automate the enterprise (PDF) (ZDNet/TechRepublic special report)
- Software automation policy guidelines (Tech Pro Research)
- Five tech jobs that AI and automation will make radically more efficient (ZDNet)