CES 2019: Is Workplace Tech Going Down The Toilet?

CES 2019 proved that technology, IoT, and automation will change all aspects of the workplace, including the toilet
  • The “smart office” was a major trend at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
  • AI, IoT and 5G-enabled devices are set to unleash unprecedented automation in workspaces
  • Niche tech launches included brain-reading wearables and automated pet toilets

The annual CES 2019 trade show opened its doors in Las Vegas last Tuesday, showcasing a range of gadgets and innovations.

This year, the smart office was “one of the hottest new categories” at CES with smart furniture and improved communications technologies taking centre stage, according to reports from ZDNet.

Computer peripheral company Targus announced its first foray into the smart office arena with its Miralogic Workplace intelligence System. It’s an IoT platform that collects real-time and historic data on how and when desks are used. Running over the cloud, it then provides you with actionable insights into your workspace’s occupancy, performance and efficiency.

As a result, you can optimise the energy efficiency of your workspace. You can also track how individual desks and groups of desks are used, and how usage changes throughout the day.

There were also some more bizarre smart technologies, including a smart toilet.  Yes, that’s right. There’s now a smart toilet.

The Kohler Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet reportedly features multi-coloured ambient lighting, a heated seat, built-in speakers and (for some reason) Amazon Alexa support. I’m not sure how your community may feel if you unleashed one in your workspace. But there has to be a target market out there. Somewhere.

The toilet talk didn’t stop there at CES. For pet-friendly workspaces, there was also plenty of smart tech on offer for your furry friends – including the Inubox automated dog toilet and a smart litter tray for cats.

While such smart tech may feel rather stupid to some, the influence of the IoT and automation is clearly stretching into all corners of the office.

The dawn of 5G

The first 5G networks are scheduled to launch this year, so 5G was a major theme at this year’s CES event. According to the Independent, Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung all spoke about the importance of connecting more devices and applications with the 5G networks.

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Other industry experts also extrapolated to future scenarios where automated vehicles and entire cities are connected across 5G networks. In short, 5G looks set to be the enabler for a dramatically interconnected world both inside and outside of the office.

Reading your tenants’ minds

Workplace wearables are gaining traction as a tool to monitor staff fitness levels  – but would you consider monitoring the brains of your flexible workspace members?

BrainCo is one of the world’s leading brain-machine interface (BMI) companies. Announced at CES 2019, the Focus1 headband from BrainCo reportedly provides real-time quantitative feedback that helps you to better understand what keeps users engaged and how to best retain information.

BrainCo is currently developing brain sensing wearable device for the education, fitness and wellness industries. While there’s no hint from the company that they may expand beyond these markets, the headbands could theoretically be used to monitor workforce wellness and engagement.

AI peaking as AR/VR struggles

“CES 2019 showed artificial intelligence will influence every aspect of our lives,” according to the Associated Press – and machine learning technologies were certainly dominant at CES 2019.

Samsung announced eight new innovations from its C-Lab. These offerings included four new robotics initiatives and the Girin Monitor Stand, which uses a sensor to track the posture of the user and automatically adjusts itself to make sure they’re sitting straight.

Cyberlink also showcased its FaceMe cross-platform AI-enabled facial recognition engine, which it claims is capable of a more than 98% positive recognition rate. This has obvious implications for the world’s workspaces. According to one report: “it’s not unusual to have secured workplace doors, which require some type of badge or passkey to enter. Facial recognition AI can eliminate these badges or passwords.”
However, a killer AR/VR app was noticeable by its absence. The main players in this space all demoed improvements and updates to their existing tech, but we could be seeing the first hints of a slow market in this industry.

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