At the beginning of 2020, many businesses were focusing their digital transformation strategies and efficiency efforts towards going paperless. Now with COVID-19 having completely shaken the world of work and accelerated many emerging trends, the need for paperless is steadily being overtaken by pressing technology requirements.
Now is the time to build workplaces that are as touchless as possible and Pro Display, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of screen and display technology show how this is possible and how these elements can be combined into current and future workplaces.
COVID-19 and workplace transmission
There are two keyways that COVID-19 can be spread in the office environment. The first is from person to person – social distancing is of course essential to combat this as it is more likely to happen when people are in direct or close contact (less than one metre apart) with an infected person.
The second occurs when infected people sneeze, cough on, or touch surfaces, or objects. When other people touch these contaminated surfaces then touch their eyes, noses or mouths without having cleaned their hands first, they may also become infected.
Before COVID-19, shared workspaces, desks and office equipment was continually touched during the working day. The question now is how we can limit this. While hand sanitisation and effective cleaning and disinfecting is key, what if you could eliminate the need to touch these surfaces completely? Well, you can.
What do we mean by touchless technology?
Touchless technology has the capability to revolutionise our offices making then safer environments for workers and ensuring that COVID-19 is contained and controlled. So, what do we mean when we talk about touchless technology?
Touchless means contactless biometric gesture recognition (this is usually body, finger and hand) as well as voice recognition. The technology is covered by software and hardware that senses and recognises the movement or voice – this then allows contactless interaction with computers, devices and machines.
Hand-dryers are an extremely basic form of touchless technology. As you would expect, the latest innovations in office interior design and technology take things a little further, however. Here’s what you can expect in the new offices of 2020 and beyond.
Enhancing your privacy with a flick of a switch (or even without the switch…)
Switchable Smart Glass is an innovative technology that provides instant privacy, with the glass switching between frosted and clear at the touch of a button. And in some instances without the button.
Use in offices
Switchable Smart Glass is essential for providing privacy in the office and can be used for:
- Privacy windows
- Room partitions
- Rear Projection Screens
- Electronic curtains/blinds
- Security panels
- Skylights/vision panels
The touchless workplace
Recent innovations around Switchable Smart Glass mean that it can be voice controlled through smart devices including Amazon Echo and Google Assistant. That’s pretty cool.
Alternatively, a motion sensor in the form of a PIR sensor can be installed that switches the glass to frosted, or back to clear, as soon as someone walks near it. Not only is this completely hands free – consider the impression this could make on potential clients when they come in for a meeting.
Signing in with a swipe of your phone
As we’ve seen with the NHS COVID-19 app, QR codes are being used for touchless sign-in to bars, restaurants and shops. This can easily be transferred to the office environment.
Use in offices: Touchless visitor sign-in technology enables you to minimise your front door and reception staff being exposed to any health risks, including the need for visitors to touch desks and communal surfaces.
The touchless workplace: A QR-based touchless sign in process hooked up to a cloud-based access control system can effectively manage visitors on arrival, while saving time and keeping staff safe. We’re expecting this to become the norm in offices up and down the country. Using an all-digital platform also means that people can request access from their smartphone before coming into work, while your visitor management system let’s guests pre-register before they even arrive at your premises.
Facial recognition could take this one step
Transforming your existing screens into touch (and touchless screens
In 2010 Microsoft released the Kinect, motion detection device used for game play on the Xbox, in 2020 people are instead integrating them with digital signage displays allowing them to operate hands free! Recent innovations have seen Interactive Touch Screen Overlay Kits provide a true multi-touch experience, transforming any screen or surface into an interactive display. For example, this can include retrofitting touch to an existing screen, video wall, or table – transforming a conventional screen into a touch screen.
Use in offices: No longer will your staff be trying to find the remote to use antiquated screens or use old school technology to present to your clients. Compatible with LCD, LED or Projection displays this technology can be installed in minutes – all you need to do is connect the USB cable and the functionality operates without the need for drivers.
The touchless workplace: You might be questioning whether this sounds like technology that requires touch? Touch screens obviously do. But this is the real innovative bit. These overlays use infrared technology, utilizing a grid of LED light invisible to the naked eye, they work by detecting a disturbance in the pattern aka a finger or stylus. This means these overlays can be fitted away from the screen, allowing users to interact with the content without actually touching the screen itself! This technology is already being tested with the use of other objects to activate it, even including tennis balls – one step closer to becoming completely touchless.
That’s pretty amazing.
Keeping your meeting rooms touchless with smartphone technology
As we start to get back to normal as much as possible and reduce the Zoom fatigue felt by employees, it is likely we’ll start collaborating in meeting rooms once again. And while Switchable Smart Glass can keep us private while remaining touchless, what about the rest of the meeting room?
Personal device control is key.
Use in offices: Personal device control – including laptop, tablet or smartphone – removes the need for any staff to interact with community infrastructure whether screens, video conferencing systems or traditional phones for conference calls.
The touchless workplace: Personal devices, and in some instances voice control, means that meeting space collaboration, content sharing and control can be initiated without touch – this can even include content highlighting and mark-up as teams collaborate together. The tech is simple, yet effective, and definitely necessary for the world of work in 2020 and beyond.
As the world changes around us, one thing is for certain – touchless office technology is here to stay and will only become more important.