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September 7, 2016updated 28 Mar 2017 5:37pm

New ways to collaborate with ‘The Cube’

By John Oates

A lot of the noise around Internet of Things technology focusses on how the technology can help in manufacturing, transport, power production and logistics. There is no doubt that these types of industries are already making use of ruggedised sensors and intelligent networks which not only monitor but also provide far better information for those managing complex systems.

But Hewlett Packard Enterprise is also looking at how IoT tech can improve collaboration and make life easier for office-based workers.

We’ve all had meetings which were ruined by technology problems. Almost every meeting begins with people crawling under desks looking for power points and projector connections. On a good day the first five minutes of any get-together will be wasted while attendees try and find the right lead for the right socket in their laptop, silencing their mobile phones, entering Wi-Fi passwords and generally getting the technology on-side.

On a bad day this can mean not just wasted time but presentations which simply cannot happen digitally. The best prepared presenter would still be advised to have several sets of print-outs of their presentation slides just in case the worst does happen and systems cannot be properly connected.

HPE’s Technology Services Consulting (TSC) has created CollaborateCube to showcase better use of technology in ‘smart’ meeting rooms.

Aruba worked with Citrix Octoblu and Microsoft to create a room which reacts intelligently to what is happening within it.

The Cube recognises and greets people as they enter the space, changes indicator lighting and digital signage and links up their devices to give them access to the information and systems they need for the meeting. The room can also update other systems like booking applications if meetings run too long or even end early.

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It can automatically call up attendees who are attending virtually via video conferencing and quickly configure presentation software for those in the room.

Finally, once the meeting once it is finished, it can update collaboration software with whatever outputs are agreed be they simple ‘to-do lists’ or more complex collaborative documents.

Although the different aspects of the Cube are useful in themselves the real added value is in bringing them all together to make the ultimate conference room. This is true of most Internet of Things projects – it is useful to have the various sensors and other devices in place – but the real bonus is creating systems which bring them, and the data they create, together.

The technology showcased by the Cube could also find uses in other areas like healthcare and education.

A system which knows which patient a doctor is talking to in a hospital for instance could bring up relevant health records and other information. Or a classroom which understands the timetable and gets the correct presentations, class registers and other materials ready for the teacher.

Technology cannot guarantee you’ll have great meetings and seamless collaboration between teams. But it can save a lot of time and if properly integrated with the right applications can really make life easier for all concerned.

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