Published on March 18, 2019 @ 2:57 pm

News We are the Robots and We’re Here to Help You

How AI and Automation Can Improve Your Workplace Experience.

By Ryan Poe, National Solutions Architect, Whitlock
poer@whitlock.com
LinkedIn

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If you’ve seen any of the Marvel movies with Iron Man, then you are probably familiar with Tony Stark’s omnipresent AI. What’s interesting is that while many of Tony’s interactions with the computer are in the form of instructions, there are also times when the computer anticipates his needs.

The future of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace, and likely at home, will shift from command-based automations (Siri, what’s the weather today? Alexa, show me a recipe for lasagna.) to a predictive assistant that knows our desires before we do (Would you like me to turn on the football game? Would you like me to order more dog food?).

Humans are easy to predict because we’re…well, notoriously predictive. Even the most spontaneous of us follow routines. And if a computer is tracking those routines, then over time, it can predict them with some degree of certainty.

So how does this translate to the workplace, and more specifically, the conference room? If we know that when users enter a conference room they usually use the AV equipment, then we can go ahead and turn the system on for them, before they initiate a command. We can track this with sensors that measure occupancy and by knowing the power status of the AV equipment. If people who pick up an HDMI cable typically want to present content from their device, then we can go ahead and switch to the appropriate input. Again, we can track this with sensors capable of object recognition and devices that report their input status.

The opportunities are nearly limitless. We can start meetings using facial recognition and calendar awareness, we can display help prompts by tracking facial expressions and system inactivity, we can adjust volume levels by listening for key phrases and checking current vs typical volume settings.

So, what can we do today to start preparing our users for this new reality? To steal another movie reference, not everyone is going to want an imposing super-computer like Hal deciding their every move. The good news is that we can start introducing these technologies gradually. Consider adding prompts on the front-of-room display when someone enters a space. We can ask for confirmation on the touch panel before automating a task (Would you like me to start your meeting? Yes/No). Or we can extend a room booking if the space is still in use and available.

We can also start to add voice to our spaces even if there is no intelligence behind it. Think of an elevator that tells you which floor you are on. In the same way we can trigger subtle vocal confirmations (“Welcome to the conference room,” “Starting your meeting,” “Shutting the system down”).

In the Avengers, Tony Stark turns his AI into a robot that tries to destroy humanity, so wield your power carefully. There is a whole new field of study around AI ethics. While I don’t think we’re going to create machine overlords by providing a little automation in the conference rooms, it’s also good to remember that sometimes less is more. Let’s not annoy our users. Remember the Microsoft paperclip? Let’s instead think of ways we can delight them by taking some of the mundane tasks off their plate.

About Whitlock

Whitlock is a video collaboration company that provides strategy, management, technologies and support to the world’s largest and most innovative businesses. We believe face-to-face collaboration creates stronger relationships and makes way for both business and personal success. What we give to a customer is the ability to connect, work together and share ideas with each other and the world, with a reliable video experience every time. Whitlock serves customers across the U.S. and provides multi-national solutions through the Global Presence Alliance.

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