How is interactive technology changing the workplace?

Epson’s Hans Dummer explains how interactive technology can help break down boundaries and make collaboration between colleagues seamless.

How is interactive technology changing the workplace?

How is interactive technology changing the workplace?

Interactive technology can help break down boundaries and make collaboration between colleagues seamless, whether they are in the same room or many hundreds, or even thousands, of miles apart. As offices become more and more digitised, it’s only natural that collaborative working takes advantage of digital, interactive technology too.  Clearly, as highlighted above, it can be a huge benefit for large multi-national companies with offices based all around the world, but interactivity in the workplace can also benefit small companies, learning environments, such as schools, and even logistical companies. The real trick here is making content, lessons or a meeting more engaging – it’s now about engaging everyone, not just presenting to an audience.

But what is interactive technology?

Much like the name implies, anything that lets people get hands-on and physically interact with what is in front of them can be attributed to the moniker of interactive technology. As offices, schools and other workplaces have become more digitised, it arguably became harder for people to directly collaborate. After all, the average computer or laptop over the past 15 years has hardly been the most tangible of objects, making it difficult at times for people to work collaboratively on documents. It also removed some of the natural, instinctive ways we work as humans, as the ability to touch, write or move items was taken away from us.

The development of touch-screen technology, particularly in smart devices such as phones and tablets, has led the way on this front, making it a lot more intuitive to scroll, read, and annotate on digital content. This interactivity is now seeping its way into wider and larger applications that can drastically alter the way we work.

Interactive laptop/tablet hybrids now exist, breaking down the boundaries between what technology is ‘meant’ to be used for, and allowing people to take advantage of touch-screen applications combined with mobility and connectivity. Collaboration software now brings together instant messaging, emails, VOIP, phones and interactive displays to make meetings a much more engaged and cooperative affair – while retaining the convenience of being able to save, share and distribute discussed content.

This kind of interactivity has progressed to boardrooms and classrooms through the means of interactive projectors and large interactive displays, enabling even large groups to interact with their work simultaneously. Other types of interactivity can be witnessed through the recent rise of wearable technology  ­-  smart glasses can utilise augmented reality to help warehouse staff locate and track items, such as parcels, or help maintenance staff follow detailed instructions, leaving their hands free for the task at hand.

What does this mean for the workplace?

Increased communication, boosted efficiency and reduced costs are all key factors in the rising implementation of interactive technology in various vertical sectors. The ability to include people from across the world instantly in a single place, without incurring any travel costs, is clearly an attractive proposition. And now that video conferencing can include a whole host of interactive tools that make collaborating and engaging with colleagues even easier, it’s no wonder that these kinds of solutions are being used more frequently in offices.

In creative sectors, such as architecture, staff have long been keen to keep the level of interactivity they had access to before the move to digital creation. Where architectural scale models have long had a role in bringing a potential design to life, smart glasses can now show that building to a user full size and on site, bringing a level of interactivity to the industry that wasn’t widely available, even a few years ago.

In schools and universities, interactive displays can be combined with collaborative software to inspire hands-on learning like never before. Students can use interactive pens – or even their hands – to directly draw, play and annotate on work at the front of the classroom.  Alternatively, students equipped with tablets can all simultaneously share their work, subject to moderation, with the rest of the class. This can involve sharing each other’s work, or working together on a single, collaborative document.

Interactivity, in its most basic sense, has always been a key factor in the workplace and in education. As computing progressed, some of this direct interactivity was lost, but now technology is helping to unlock the core elements of interactivity once again – both in a school classroom or a boardroom, or between groups of people on other sides of the world. This interactive integration does a very good job of not only improving involvement, but also of increasing productivity.  And as this technology continues to grow, it is likely that collaborative interactivity will become increasingly seamless in the workplace.

Click here to find out more about Epson’s range of interactive solutions.