How can you make the work environment more effective with interactivity, more human-centric and last but not least … fun? Ok, let’s see, imagine the scene where the staff of a project entering the conference room, the project leader says: “Watson, bring me the last working session.” The computer recognizes and greets the project staff, then retrieves the materials used in the last meeting and displays them on three large screens, and the work can begin. The project staff interacts with each other through computers that understand their speech sensors that detect their position, record their roles and observe their attention. No human administration or other disruptions, only a collaborative environment where the project team also naturally interact with the computers that manage all the data in the room. This illustrates a milestone for building collaborative problem-solving environments in the workplace, classrooms or other creative spaces, and is based on research and development of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and IBM Research, the Cognitive and Immersive Systems Laboratory (CISL). Hui Su, director of CISL, explains:
“In CISL, we created this architecture to integrate technologies that register different kinds of human behavior captured by sensors as individual events and forward them to the cognitive agents behind the scene for interpretation. Enhancing this architecture will allow us to link new sensing technologies and computer vision technologies into the system, and to enable collaborative decision making tools on top of these technologies.”
Then to the fun part
In such an environment, stripped of disruptions, boosting creativity and progress, where the human much more than before is in the centre of the event, which skills and learning forms are required. Michael Tews, associate professor of hospitality management at Penn State University, says:
“You might not think there is this connection between informal learning and fun in the workplace. It’s easier to make the connection between fun and retention, or fun and performance to the extent that it leads to creativity, but fun and learning doesn’t seem connected at the face of it. The gist of this argument, though, is that when you have a workplace that is more fun, it creates a safe environment for learning to occur.”
Bringing in fun aides the learning between co-workers improves the general well-being and yes, adapt humans to the tech-driven room described above. Since when computers collect and manufacture the hard facts, the data, the human focus can change from collecting and responding to information, into more of a developer and a craftsman of the project. A collaborative environment that opens up to more play with the information, which means more trial and error, learning by doing and fun. Such a cognitive space has great prerequisites of boosting innovation, effectiveness and performance in the workplace.