Low Touch Tech

I did something today that I have never done before.  I Googled the words Alexa and Crestron together.

This may not seem like a big deal, but for me it was.  In commercial systems, unlike their residential counterparts, there has not been a huge push towards voice control yet.

The office is not an intimate environment like the home.  There are dozens of users that may utilize the space. Many times there may be five other people in the room at the same time, meaning trying to execute a command means asking everyone else to be quiet.  For all these reasons, I’ve felt that the commercial environment actually lends itself more to a silent “touch” than a spoken command. However, our current situation has potentially changed that.

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There is definitely going to be a lot of focus on the physical environment when people return to work.  Let me assure you, there will not be a return to normal, or at least it will not coincide with our return to work.  There will be an indefinite period of time where things will be different at work.

Being the technology team at a company that bridges the larger facilities and furniture worlds, I can tell you that these conversations are already happening.  People are not only thinking about how they disinfect their spaces and keep them clean, but they’re thinking about what materials they need to replace, what areas they need to rearrange, how to rotate workstations to create more distance, how to raise dividing panels, and yes, how to minimize the need to pack into meeting rooms as well as the need to touch technology.

Community equipment will be minimized. Sharing will be discouraged. Items that are shared will have new sanitation protocols enforced.

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Many AV professionals are excited at the prospect of increased remote collaboration and videoconferencing, but I don’t think many realize that the solutions they sold before may not be the same as the ones they sell in the future.

Things like room or community touch panels, ClickShare buttons, multi-touch screens, and hard remotes will all be reconsidered.

App based control from personal devices may emerge as the preferred method.  App based content sharing from personal devices will likely increase as well. Supporting things like MiraCast and AirPlay will be even more important.  Personalized control logins or app based control may be key.  If community equipment is used, then voice and… gulp… even gesture control may be requested.

I spoke with one former engineer who has essentially been turned into a help desk technician during this time, supporting hundreds of users in joining remote meetings and using collaboration tools.  He believes that if we’re not thoughtful, this could be the future of AV.  A division of the help desk for IT.

In house tech teams may be needed more than ever, as any community equipment, or company issued items will need to be sanitized and logged in and out assuring their cleanliness as they move from user to user.

the brave new world may not be “brave” at all, with each piece of high touch technology viewed as a potential vulnerability.

So, if you haven’t heard it yet, consider this the warning bell.  Start to explore how you may shift towards a cleaner, low touch technology offering, or you may just find that when things start to return, people won’t be buying what you’re selling.