The Future of Work: What does a Smart Office look like today?

Editor’s note: We just returned from Holland last week where we attended AMIS 25, which was a wonderful show. One of the demos we showed was the Smart Office; Noel (@noelportugal) also gave a presentation on it.

We’ve been showing the Smart Office since OOW last year, and it remains one of our most popular demos because it uses off-the-shelf components that are available today, e.g. Amazon Echo, Leap Motion, Philips Hue lights, beacons, etc., making it an experience that anyone could replicate today with some development work.

The following article is cross-posted from our Emerging Technologies pages on oracle.com. Stay tuned for details on each of the components of the Smart Office.

In early 2015, the AppsLab team decided we were going to showcase the latest emerging technologies in an integrated demo. As part of the Oracle Applications User Experience group, our main goal as the emerging technologies team is to design products that will increase productivity and user participation in Oracle software.

We settled on the idea of the Smart Office, which is designed with the future of enterprise workplaces in mind. With the advent of the Internet of Things and more home automation in consumer products, users are expecting similar experiences in the workplace. We wanted to build an overall vision of how users will accomplish their tasks with the help of emerging technologies, no matter where they might be working.

Technologies such as voice control, gesture, and proximity have reached what we consider an acceptable maturity level for public consumption. Inexpensive products such as the Amazon Echo, Leap Motion and Bluetooth beacons are becoming more common in users’ daily lives. These examples of emerging technology have become cornerstones in our vision for the Smart Office.

Wearable technology also plays an important role in our idea of the Future of Work. Smart watches are becoming ubiquitous, and the price of wireless microprocessors continues to decrease. Dedicated mobile devices, our research shows, can increase productivity in the workplace when they are properly incorporated into the user experience as a whole.

Building for you, a Sales Cloud example

We first created what we call a user persona to assist us in building the Smart Office. This helps us develop very specific work flows using very specific technology that can be widely applied to a variety of software users. In this case, we started with a sales example as they are often mobile workers.

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Sally Smith, our development example for the Smart Office, is a regional sales vice president who is traveling to her headquarter’s office. Traveling to another office often requires extra effort to find and book a working space. To help Sally with that task, we built a geo-fence-enabled mobile app as well as a Smart Badge. Here’s what these two components help her do:

  • As Sally approaches the office building, her mobile device (using geo-fencing capabilities) alerts her via her smart watch and helps her find her way to her an available office space, using micro-location with beacons. She uses her Smart Badge, which has access to data about her employee status, to go through the security doors at the office building.
  • As Sally approaches the available office space, her Smart Badge proximity sensor (a Bluetooth beacon) connects with a Lighthouse, which is a small touch-screen device outside the office space that displays space availability and works as the “brain” to control IoT devices inside the space. The proximity with the Lighthouse triggers a second confirmation to her smart watch to unlock the office and reserve the space in the company’s calendar system. This authenticates her reservation in two ways.

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  • As Sally enters the office, her global preferences are loaded into the office “brain.” Settings such as light brightness and color (Hue Lights), and room temperature (Nest Thermostat) are set to her liking.
  • The office screens then start to load Sally’s familiar pictures as well as useful data relative to her location, such as weather or local events, on two Infoscreens. An Infoscreen is a Wi-Fi-enabled digital frame or LCD screen hung on the wall.

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Sally has already interacted with her Smart Office in several ways. But up to this point, all of the interactions have been triggered or captured by emerging technology built into mobile devices that she is carrying with her. Now, she is ready to interact more purposefully with the Smart Office.

  • Sally uses the Amazon Echo voice control to talk to the office: “Alexa, start my day.” Since she has been authenticated by the system already, it knows that the Oracle Sales Cloud is the application she is most likely to need, and the welcome page is now loaded in the touchscreen at the desk. She can use voice navigation to check on her opportunities, leads, or any other section of the Sales Cloud.
  • Sally was working on the plane with Oracle Sales Cloud, but she did not have a chance to save her work before landing. Session portability is built into the cloud user experience, which takes care of saving her work when she is offline. Now that she is sitting inside the Smart Office and back online, she just swipes her screen to transfer her incomplete work onto the desktop screen.

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  • The Smart Office also uses empty wall space to project data throughout the day. On this Ambient Screen, Sally could use her voice (Amazon Echo), or hand gestures (Leap Motion), to continue her work. Since Sally has a global sales team, she can use the Ambient Screen to project a basic overview of her team performance metrics, location, and notifications.
  • If Sally needs to interact with any of the notifications or actions she sees on the Ambient Screen, she can use a grab-and-throw motion to bring the content to her desk screen. She can also use voice commands to call up a team map, for example, and ask questions about her team such as their general location.

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  • As Sally finishes her day and gets ready to close her session inside the Smart Office, she can use voice commands to turn everything off.

Find out more

The Smart Office was designed to use off-the-shelf components on purpose. We truly believe that the Future of Work no longer relies on a single device. Instead, a set of cloud-connected devices help us accomplish our work in the most efficient manner.

For more on how we decide which pieces of emerging technology to investigate and develop in a new way for use in the enterprise world, read “Influence of Emerging Technology,” on the Usable Apps website.

See this for yourself and get inspired by what the Oracle Applications Cloud looks like when it’s connected to the future. Request a lab tour.

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