The lines between technology and architecture are beginning to blur. “Smart” and interactive office walls are now being added to the wish list of forward-thinking businesses around the world. Vertical space has long been dedicated to artwork, wallpaper, and simple white boards. But it’s time to put this real estate to real use. Here are 4 innovative ideas that will change the way you think about walls forever.
Now You See It, Now You Don’t
What if glass walls in an office didn’t have to mean the end of privacy? Switchable glass may be the solution. It features a sheet of liquid crystal film sandwiched between layers of glass. A flip of a switch runs a low electric current through the panel, aligning the crystals and making the sheet transparent. Shut off the current, and the crystals orient themselves at random, making the glass opaque. Switchable smart glass is a simple yet elegant solution to the privacy question. Instead of choosing between a complete fishbowl and a secretive meeting space, you can decide on the desired level of transparency on a situational basis.
Vertical Intelligent Architecture
Just last year, Steelcase launched V.I.A. at NeoCon. This integrated wall system features a very intelligent design—particularly when it comes to sound-proofing. Carefully engineered silencing seals limit leakage of conversations, giving small teams a chance to collaborate without disturbing coworkers nearby. Rooms built using V.I.A. can offer a futuristic experience. According to Steelcase, these spaces can be, “enabled with sensors, activators and microprocessors that augment the interactions of people within the space by taking on tasks such as adjusting lighting, signaling noise levels, turning on screens and capturing information.”
Jumbo Collaborative Wall Displays
Certainly some of the most attractive and compelling interactive office walls are the giant touchscreens. Both OFS (in partnership with T1Visions) and Haworth (in collaboration with Obscura Digital) have recently brought designs to the market in this space. The ThinkHub BYOD collaboration application is integrated with Slate to create large-scale multi-touch user InTouch wall displays that sync with smart devices. Users can choose to mirror their own device on the touchscreen, enabling instant sharing and annotation of their own ideas in real-time.
Bluescape, the offering from Haworth, provides another technologically articulate way to view and manipulate a large quantity of visual data. With a tile-based display system, it can be expanded to fill an entire wall. This cloud-hosted system is “always on”, permitting teams to access the data on their own devices anywhere, any time.
Today, it’s high-end corporate headquarters that feature smart walls. But in the future, small businesses and even modest home offices might be equipped with interactive office walls as well. What do you think?