The Exploring Innovation event in September was organised by Unwired, who are a firm of consultants and who set up this exhibition of new technologies for the workplace. It was held at the Royal College of Art and showcased a number of designs from graduates in art & design.
The key areas of communication, connectivity and collaboration were the main focus from the companies exhibiting their new products and solutions. It was aimed at anyone involved with the design and management of workplaces.
What was useful was that Unwired grouped delegates into a small tour party and we were guided around each exhibitor who presented their innovative products in about 5 minutes, so a bit rushed for some stands, plenty for others.
Many stands were situated inside inflatable pods, which were lit from the inside, creating a soft shell for exhibitors but open at one side to allow delegates to walk in. Designed by Inflate, these Office in a Bag pods helped separate the stands and improved the noise levels and visual distractions of most exhibitions.
This is a list of those products from companies that caught my eye, its not a comprehensive list all the exhibitors.
Artica Technologies – Low energy alternative to air conditioning that can uses 90% less energy than conventional AC units. It captures fresh air at night, stores it in thermal batteries and then releases it during the next day.
Bene – Leading furniture manufacturer Bene have produced a contemporary new range of modular office furniture called Parcs, for more informal ways of working and allowing people to work in different ways.
It includes lighting and work surfaces that accommodate how people interact when at work. Parcs addresses some of the issues thrown up by open-plan workspaces where privacy, group working or presentation activities are also required.
Building Sustainability – In collaboration with Meru Networks, the ‘Workplace Footprint tracker’ measures energy consumption and space usage to encourage energy saving practices.
Cortexica – We saw a product using Key-point image recognition technology. The demonstration showed a bottle of wine being photographed on an iPhone, the picture is then sent to a server which then delivers information back to the user. Rather like the Shazam music recognition app on iPhones.
This technology could be expanded in all sorts of ways, taking a photo of an object then being served with relevant data, purchasing opportunities and reviews from other buyers.
Flat Futures – Electronic objects made of paper or other flat and flexible surfaces, with the electronics as part of the material.
Libresco – Similar to the Sony E Reader this paperless device aims to look just like printed paper. The company refer to it as a ‘printer’, in that you send a document to the device and like paper, you can annotate it with a pen. Only PC compatible at the moment.
Light Blue Optics – Very clever miniature projectors with touch screen images on any surface, LBO believe it will revolutionise how we see and interact at home, work, vehicles, etc. Also showed small holographic projections for fire escapes.
Microsoft – At first it seemed like the U Touch screens, Surface Table allows users to interact with digital content in a collaborative, intuitive way. You can place an object on the screen, it scans it and can then be used as any other file
Milliken Carpets – Leading manufacturers in the world of carpets! Their new sustainable random-lay carpet tile can be laid more easily as a pattern doesn’t need to be followed and has a coating that eliminates the need for unfriendly for the environment adhesives and floor sealing. Estates managers take note.
Meru Networks – The latest fourth generation wireless network can provide easier access point installations and allow roaming for voice and data and cope with a large number of users. Recently ratified, “the high-speed 802.11n wireless is an emerging technology with the fastest adoption rate the industry has ever seen”
I’m no IT techie but I can appreciate the cost-saving advantages of this technology, replacing expensive wiring where the cost of one data port can be as much as £150. It also features a security ‘force-field’ so that no one can access the network from outside the building.
Pathfinder – A project to design a navigational tool for Smartphones. It will allow buildings and environments to guide users of all ages and abilities, overcoming the problems that many have especially those who are visually impaired, of finding our way through public spaces.
Plumis – Fire suppression system designed to prevent fires by sending out a spray of water instead of a traditional sprinkler system. It uses existing taps and water mains, sending out a water mist that suppresses electrical and liquid fires.
Polycom – Not new technology but new products, the stand showed video conferencing solutions that are getting smaller and allowing organisations to reduce their costs and carbon footprint