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Tech Inspiration: Is a ‘Connected Office’ the future?

Tech Inspiration: Is a ‘Connected Office’ the future?

Working across different offices and different time zones in varying roles and capacities can provide logistical and practical issues for any business.

Whilst there are third party tools such as Basecamp, Jira, and Slack on offer, our individual needs can be quite specific. With continual advancements in technology and what the online world has to offer, a ‘connected office’ could be exactly what we all need!

So this got us thinking… what if we created a ‘Connected Office’ that would allow our team to see real time data, save time and importantly make an office environment more enjoyable for everyone. This concept could grow, with more features being added as needed.

What would the feature set include?

  • Intuitive dashboard made up of small component widgets, each communicating a different piece of information.
  • Customisable user profiles allowing each member of the team to control their own dashboard, so only the relevant and useful data is displayed.
  • Dashboard themes to further personalise and enhance the user-experience.
  • Centralised control panel to share useful tools and documentation including in-demand modules.

We wanted to find an existing solution which we could use and adapt to bring this idea to life. Mozaïk is a great flexible tool which give us the functionality to put this idea into practice.

Mozaïk

Mozaïk (License: MIT, Github: /plouc/mozaik, Website: mozaik.rocks, Demo: mozaik.herokuapp.com) by Raphaël Benitte allows users to build custom widgets to create fully customisable and themed web-app dashboard solutions, giving us the flexibility to build on the existing technology.

 

What are Mozaïk’s key features?

  • Scalable layouts
  • Themes support
  • Extendable by modules
  • Grid positioning
  • Optimized backend communication
  • Rotation support (with smooth transition)

NB: Mozaïk is built using Node.js, React, RefluxJS, d3 and Stylus.

The off-the-shelf Mozaïk tool comes with 6 themes, although with a knowledge of CSS, it is easy to develop a custom theme. Mozaïk widgets are kept separate from the main dashboard as npm packages. Modules can therefore be created at any time, without affecting the core dashboard. By taking this approach, the dashboard can scale and grow over time, and means different developers can contribute and build custom modules as required.

 

There are some great existing extensions that you can use to build up your dashboard:

Mozaïk has been implemented by a number of organisations including Canal+, JoliCode and Aptus Health. JoliCode have created a dashboard which shows information like their social presence, local travel timetables and upcoming events on a large screen TV.

What could your dashboard look like?

For a bit of design inspiration and to start to visualise your very own ‘Connected Office’, here are some concepts that we created:

Room Concept

 

 

Music Concept

Colleagues can play or queue music within our offices, which is played over the office speaker system. Having an area within the dashboard which shows the current song, play queue and volume controls would allow employees to find music they love (or hate!), and offer a more collaborative experience.

The look and function of the dashboard can be changed to fit your business, but bringing the following features together would get your dashboard off to a great start:

  • Individual Team Member information – Showing who was off sick, or on holiday. A widget could be created to utilise the internal holiday booking system.
  • Meetings – A simple to use calendar where you could see and schedule upcoming meetings. The Microsoft Outlook Calendar REST API provides access to events, calendar and calendar group data.
  • Temperature – Showing and allowing employees to change the temperature in each room within the office. The pre-existing Mozaïk weather widget would allow us to show outside temperature and weather conditions.
  • Device Monitoring – Show the location and battery levels of each device within the office (we have a dedicated suite of devices for testing). iBeacons could show the device location, and use the HTML5 battery status API, along with an app which collects battery levels.
  • Music – Using the Spotify API we could show what is currently being played in each room, and allow people to queue tracks, or change playlist. The volume could also be adjusted on a per room basis.
  • Social – Using the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram API’s we will show a real-time feed of our social posts and engagement.

 

A look to the future

The traditional office is becoming less and less relevant in today’s world, with companies adopting new technologies to make the work place smarter, more intuitive, and more connected. It won’t be long until offices automatically replenish stock, automatically adjust temperature levels for optimum performance, and use smarter motion sensors to save electricity.

Mozaïk is a powerful tool which shows all of this data in an easy to use manner, and that can scale as the connected office grows. At Propeller we are always looking to innovate, and to make our office space a better environment for our team. The connected office dashboard is a great way to create a sophisticated and intelligent work place that works to our needs.