11/01/2009

The Evolution of Communication Furniture

Is wired furniture on the way out?

By Eric Smith

 

Touchscreen tabletops like this one – essentially tabletop displays that can accommodate multiple users at once – have different applications, depending on where they’re used. In a hotel environment, these tabletops can include features like an interactive concierge and directions to shops and restaurants, downloadable music playlists, the ability to organize vacation photos, a digital jukebox, games, and pictures and information about sister hotel properties.

Solutions for bringing data to workstations are a common necessity for office environments – especially because the scourge of cables can quickly become excessive. The current offerings of integrated panels and wired furniture are flush with variety; however, these solutions are set to become extinct as the habits of business communication evolve. This cycle of replacement is typical – office furniture needs to be updated along with the technology it proffers – but the human proportions of furniture, which are the fundamental elements, do not change. This poses the question: What can be new about a table?

The answer begins with the evolving habits of communication. Since the paperwork explosion of the 1950s, the typical office presumption is that each worker operates primarily from an isolated station, because that’s where documents are stored and correspondence occurs. Today, these habits are rapidly changing – data storage is now virtual, and digital communication is omnipresent. Schools and businesses are finding that productivity is occurring more informally in places like open learning labs. These spaces use furniture that’s functional in a social way, encouraging interaction and exchange. Data cables and wired furniture will soon be a relic of the past as they give way to shared interactive surfaces and pocket computers. Examples of this emergent vision are under way at Microsoft Office Labs, and a sample video, titled "Productivity Future Vision," can be found at www.officelabs.com.

The Future of Wired Furniture

When offices need to evolve and reconfigure, it can cost $500 per person torelocate data and power cables. One wiring and cable company has recently beenworking to incorporate data cables into a flexible panel system that allows foreasy disassembly and reconfiguration. When combined with emerging communicationstechnology, such as touchscreen tables, a solid strategy for future ofproductivity can be achieved.

A need for tables to accommodate a computer, a keyboard, a mouse, a monitor, and accessory devices, along with their wiring, will be replaced by furniture elements that are all of these components integrated as a complete entity. Instead of plugging computers into workstations, consumers will instead purchase communication furniture. This future isn’t as far off as it may sound; one groundbreaking product, a touchscreen tabletop, had its recent debut in Sheraton Hotel lobbies. A hotel guest can walk up and instantly have the tools necessary to put together a multimedia presentation.

As the market for the next generation of communication devices matures, it becomes important that office environments manage the transition from today’s heavily wired desktop reality to an informal, wireless reality. Core furniture elements with the ability to satisfy non-virtual functions should be reconsidered; they can give a balance of character to mass-produced interactive stations.

Eric Smith is a designer at MUSA Design (www.musadesign.net) in Seattle.

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com

 
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