HP Innovation Journal Issue 10: Fall 2018 - Page 43

STRIVING TO BE SUPERNATURALLY PRODUCTIVE PAST, PRESENT AND THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE Alex Thayer, Chief Experience Architect for HP’s Immersive Experiences Lab, believes that artificial intelligence, virtual reality, language processing and machine learning will dramatically improve meeting productivity—as long as their developers observe and apply how people actually learn, work and collaborate best. As businesses continue to grow globally, with employees working from decentralized locations—last year a Gallup survey found that 43 percent of American workers spent some time working remotely—virtual reality could radically evolve collaboration across teams. “One of our lab’s focus areas is what we call supernatural productivity,” says Thayer, whose Ph.D. thesis explored human collaboration. His team aims to understand how technology can enhance people’s day-to-day rather than become a burden. “If you don’t understand people—their workflows, their habits, their messy lives—how can you craft technology solutions for them? “It’s only recently that we can choose to work in either the physical realm or the digital realm,” Thayer adds. “For example, if workers are more productive using physical notebooks, then by all means, the future of technology doesn’t mean we have to kill paper.” Rather, he envisions a future with “activated paper,” where people can take notes by hand while remaining connected to their digital workflows. FROM VIDEO CONFERENCING TO VR COLLABORATING Advanced technologies are already being harnessed to improve meetings. Mark Benioff, CEO of cloud-based services provider Salesforce, brings an AI machine to the company’s weekly executive gatherings. He says the tech- nology helps process and analyze data in real time—often out-predicting the high-performing humans around the table. And virtual-reality meetings could soon replace Skype and Zoom as the video-conferencing platform of choice. Chance Glasco, co-founder of popular video game franchise “Call of Duty,” is now co-founder of a new VR-meeting software startup called Rumii. The software provides interactive desktops, VR slide presentations and the ability to make virtual eye contact with teammates. “If you don’t understand people— their workflows, their habits, their messy lives—how can you craft technology solutions for them?” - Alex Thayer, HP's Chief Experience Architect Back in this reality, a wearable device called Bird lets meeting presenters turn any surface into a tactile, interactive projection screen for brainstorming and hands-on creative collaboration. In other words, a table you’re all gathered around could suddenly become an all-hands whiteboard. The Garage by HP In the U.S., American companies hold 11 million meetings each year. Unproductive ones cost the country $37 million annually. And, using data from AI, machine learning and voice systems, it could be possible to upload and store meetings in the cloud, Thayer notes. “A meeting in 2030 might entail literally having a dialogue with four versions of yourself from the past, plus some people in real time,” he says. “Your meeting might start by saying: ‘Let’s review what we said six months ago and make sure we’re on track.’” Thayer also foresees effortless and instantaneous cross- global communication. “Imagine having meetings where you can just speak your native language while everyone else does the same—what happens to the notion of language itself?” HP is betting on seamless collaboration in the workplace by making key investments in technology advances like the Elite Slice, which packages the power of a desktop in a portable and cable-free device. Remote workers can even customize their Slice and turn it into a conference phone. (A conference call seems a lot less soul sucking when you’re calling in from a remote locale of choice.) These kinds of innovations could unleash a world of creative ideas and business solutions as well as new global opportunities for talent. Of course, as time goes on, Thayer notes, we’ll also be collab- orating more and more directly with the technology we build. “For the thousands of years that humans have had meetings, we’ve never invited technology to play an equal role in the meeting,” he says. “I’m curious how partnering with intelligent technology is going to change the dynamics of meetings over the next five or 10 years.” This article originally appeared on the Garage by HP. Visit garage.ext. hp.com for more stories on how technology is improving our world. 43