It’s difficult to avoid adverts or news stories about the amazing technological feats the modern ‘intelligent car’ can perform. One of the most impressive is that a vehicle can now ‘know’ its position on the road, sense when it may be veering into another lane and transmit a warning vibration through the seat to jolt a drowsy driver into attention.
This type of technological innovation that makes our lives safer and easier to navigate is set to extend to the workplace. Already, there are smart chairs that measure our posture and how long we’ve been sitting, as well as smart work surfaces that know when we’re present.
In a recent interview with the Economist Intelligence Unit on ‘The Future of Work’, (sponsored byRicoh Europe), Alan Hedge, Director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell University, points out that this type of technology is just the start, “we are at the very beginning of a revolution in ‘active’ objects and products that have sensors built into them.”
Professor Hedge terms this interaction between people and design technology ‘everywhere ergonomics’. While smart chairs and surfaces may not have made their way to all workplaces just yet, many people will already be using everywhere ergonomics at home. It’s only a matter of time before the boom in wearable devices begins to have a transformative effect on the workplace. Think back to how the widespread adoption of smartphones kick-started the shift to mobile working promised by portable computers years earlier. I believe this boom could be bigger.