I recently attended the O’Reilly Solid Convention.

It was very very cool, and right at the heart of current enthusiasm for ‘makers’, for IoT, and for hackery of all types. If you’re interested, go ahead and check out some of their videos. I’ll still be here.

One talk I found particularly inspiring introduced a new device designed to use empathic technology to very simply increase alertness or relaxation . The founder of doppel talked about some of the background behind their work, exploring phenomena like the rubber hand illusion, and how this can be generalized with digital hands, and explored a range of other cognitive illusions. The result of their exploration was a very down-to-earth, wearable device that provides a heartbeat-like pulse that produces statistically significant changes in human physiology and performance. Unfortunately there is no video of this talk, but it’s worth taking a look at their kickstarter.

I’m fascinated by these types of cognitive hacks. Imagine how phenomena like this could enhance virtual reality, or make virtual meetings more productive! There’s amazing new innovation out there around giving new senses – such as seeing with the tongue (now FDA approved), or explorations into adding a directional sense. The idea of using technology to make us stronger, faster, and more productive is introduced in the Citrix 2020 technology landscape document and is a one element of how our workplaces will change in the near future.

Another rapidly emerging area is the use of voice recognition. I’ve been using the Amazon Echo at home, and it’s amazing how quickly even the most technophobic of my family are willing to use this device. ‘Alexa, play <a random annoying teen pop artist> radio’. It’s fast, easy, and dramatically reduces barriers to use.

2020 landscape doc

As of today, the types of commands provided natively by Echo are relatively simple. Yet even in challenging situations, Echo can hear and understand requests so well that it feels like magic. Imagine having this technology in the workplace – in every meeting room. No more having to work out terrible user interface around different display options and more.

Check out a demo of this in action at Citrix Synergy 2015 with the Citrix Workplace Hub and Octoblu.

What about having meeting rooms that can identify who’s physically in a meeting, the discussion themes, if people are upset, or indeed foster better collaboration. Imagine having the Jarvis virtual assistant from ‘Iron Man’ at your work. Or, if thats not your scene, what else might be coming soon? How about instant hardware prototyping? What new IoT devices might make sense in the workplace? What if we could trial the hardware as simply and easily as software?

Future of workOne of the themes for Citrix Startup Accelerator is the ‘future of work’. The goal for this investment theme is to invest in first class startups, bringing new approaches and capabilities to these emerging themes in how our workplaces become more productive, and more human-centric. One example from our portfolio is WhoKnows. WhoKnows is an amazing company bringing very pragmatic improvements to the way we understand the rest of our team, and indeed everyone in the organization. I like to think of them as making the whole of a large company as simple to work with as a single workgroup. This is a huge challenge and one that existing approaches have not yet solved.

Do you have a great new approach to ‘The future of work’? Let me know.


Dr Michael Harries, Chief Technologist, Senior Director, Citrix Startup Accelerator