Marten Bütow
16. November 2017 0
Collaboration

IRON MAN live

Cropped shot of computer programmers working on new code

Friday evening – Iron Man time. It’s always entertaining to watch how Tony Stark transforms into a superhero. And it’s also a bit like an educational film for people working in IT today. Big data analyses, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, connectivity – you could all take this from a T-Systems sales pitch.

But what amazed me most last Friday was Tony’s workplace where he puts together the Iron Man suit: gesture and voice control, as well as augmented reality. Tony slips virtually into his armor, writes notes with a movement of his hand and chats animatedly with Jarvis and robots (who sometimes even understand him without his saying a word): “You don’t need to wait for me.”

Augmented reality – no longer science fiction

Back in 2008, augmented reality still seemed like science fiction. And now? While on YouTube today, I came across a collection of short videos from Bertrandt Systems giving a live illustration of a number of application scenarios for the technology, which perhaps still seems futuristic at present. Virtual braking tests for development purposes, placement of digital body parts on real cars – that’s already possible today.

Change at workplaces, new devices

When we speak about workplaces today, we also have to start thinking beyond stationary or mobile PCs, the smartphone or the tablet. At development departments, production lines, control centers or building sites – you sometimes need input and output devices that are closer to and exist in reality and, related to that, simpler, more natural methods of receiving and passing on information: shoes, gloves, helmets, VR/AR equipment – the range of devices that can be used in reality is growing continuously. A study by the University of Constance came to the conclusion that employees at control centers have to operate an average of 18 (!) devices (six for inputs, nine for outputs and three for communication). So it’s understandable that they sometimes feel a little lost – and that mistakes occur.

More efficient work thanks to digitization – reality-based interaction

The move toward simpler human-computer interaction is therefore not a fun trend à la Google Glass or iWatch, but in some cases a business necessity. At least if we look away from our office workplace. We live in an age where the form factors needed by people are available to enable efficient work in a post-WIMP* (Window, Icon, Menu, Pointing Device) world.

Since we provide desktops, in particular managed workplaces, such experimental devices might also pass through our hands one day – and although they may be met with sneers to begin with, it will then be later “device as usual.” Work will become increasingly individualized thanks to these devices. We’ll no longer discuss who’s permitted to use which software, but who’s allowed to use which device. Times are changing. But you already knew that … I need a bullet-proof  flight suit like that. I must ask my boss …

What should the dynamic workplace be like so that companies are fit for the future? Benny Tritsch and Brian Madden have addressed the issue for us in a white paper. You can download it here.

 

Footnote

* The term “post-WIMP” dates from 2008 (what a coincidence ;)). Robert J.K. Jacob coined it and formulated a framework for reality-based interaction for collaboration between man and machine.

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