The Visualist Blog

Visual Literacy: Technology and Workplace Aesthetics

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’v blogged about the trend. WeWork has it 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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