We’ve reached a pretty exciting place as a technology community – technology is being used to make the workplace better in ways that would have been viewed as frivolous or ineffectual just ten years ago. Consultants are combining best practices about human-centered design with their wiring diagrams and system drawing. Visual aesthetic is now given importance alongside the traditional AV calling cards of interoperability, reliability, and usability. If you had suggested to a GE space planner in 1995 that they should take a close look at adding soft furniture, open areas, and adjustable mood lighting to encourage freedom of thought in collaboration spaces – you’d be ignored (at best). Now, with help from outside innovative architects and space consultants, GE is front-and-center in a revolution in our workspace that embraces new technology and design-thinking together. Take a look at their latest innovation center. The building contains bistros and collaboration venues both indoors and outdoors and all in a design that embraces the workplace as a place you want to be.

I’ve blogged about the trend that focuses on “working from home while at work” that designs your workspace to embrace elements you want in other parts of your life. Millennials are leading the charge here and really do see the need for artificial barriers between their workspace and everything else.  If you look at the focus on “Visual Literacy” in the workplace, elements like plants, artwork, lighting, and even sound are being considered. Why am I blogging about this – it’s a trend we should all be aware of, and, I think, embrace. If you are an integrator, consultant, or develop spaces for your own company – it’s important to consider the design of the space holistically – from the technology that will enable your employees to the colors you put on the walls. It’s an approach that WeWork has down to a beautiful science, and it’s paid off in spades.

I try to practice what I preach. So, I just spent 6 hours with our design team reviewing a set of images that will rotate on your meeting room displays when your room display isn’t in use. The designers have spent countless hours gaining an understanding of how our choices for imagery will impact emotive state, user intent, and even participant engagement level. These new images will ship with the 4.0 release of Solstice. Believe me, I have plenty to work on in the run-up to the software launch (like video framerates at 4K that will blow your mind), and it would be easy to ignore the aesthetic axis of our product. Maybe simply drop an image of “how to get started” on the screen or leave it black until users connect– but that would be a shame.

Bruce Mau once told me – if you create [software], then you are a designer of other people’s experience whether you care to admit it or not. If you’re creating an artifact that will be deployed into people’s environments (often in hundreds of rooms) – you have a responsibility to curate the experience in a way that is positive. Our design choices in the Solstice product should bring people together, de-stress them before a meeting, and enhance their space. I’m here late tonight working on core technology in the runup to the big ISE show because I spent most of the day contemplating pictures of landscapes, but it’s worth it.

I really hope the AV and technology world in general also views this type of work as a blessing and not a burden. Our technology has taken us to some amazing places in the workplace (projected AR, wireless content casting, automated wayfinding, AI assistant, etc.) based on what it can do – and it’s given us the freedom to care about our environments in ways we simply couldn’t when we were still working on some of the more basic problems.

What images did we pick?  Come see us at the ISE show (stand #14-N130)– I’ll be revealing a surprising new product at 11:00 AM on 5 February in Amsterdam – come see if we lived up to expectations!

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About Christopher Jaynes

Jaynes received his doctoral degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he worked on camera calibration and aerial image interpretation technologies now in use by the federal government. Jaynes received his BS degree with honors from the School of Computer Science at the University of Utah. In 2004, he founded Mersive and today serves as the company's Chief Technology Officer. Prior to Mersive, Jaynes founded the Metaverse Lab at the University of Kentucky, recognized as one of the leading laboratories for computer vision and interactive media and dedicated to research related to video surveillance, human-computer interaction, and display technologies.

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