How the listening table helps us collaborate
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There is scarecely an employer today that isn’t trying to construct a collaborative workforce. Many have installed digital tools such as enterprise social networks, or have built collaborative places into their workspaces to try and encourage employees (and other stakeholders) to collaborate with one another.
I wrote earlier this year about a new device called the SmartKAPP, which is a whiteboard that records everything written on it to be converted into a PDF or JPG file and sent out to those present in the meeting.
A new concept from the New York Times R&D Lab is attempting to take this kind of approach to another level.
They’ve developed what they call the Listening Table, which is designed to make meetings much more effective and streamlined.
The table features an array of microphones and other whizzy technologies that are not only able to record what was said but also to understand who it was that said it.
Of course, recording the audio from meetings isn’t all that impressive, and is a task that most of our mobile phones can achieve. Where the Listening Table is different however is its ability to derive context from the conversation.
Its makers believe it can accurately depict the important moments in the conversation, and thus strip out any filler that doesn’t add to the meeting.
This facility enables the recording of each meeting to contain a high level summary, an outline of the core topics covered, and various other important elements of the conversation.
To protect your privacy, the table is designed to clearly display when it is recording, and there is a simple on/off switch to enable private conversations to take place.
The table has a simple design that clearly explains its function to the user, with the aim being to distance itself from any notions of eavesdropping on employee conversations.
Whilst the device is only in a prototype stage at the moment, it’s an interesting indication of where office design may be heading in the future. Whilst the functionality is clearly interesting, arguably even more exciting is the ability of the table to distinguish context from an audio stream. That could have more wideranging applications that are certainly worth keeping an eye out for.
You can check out more about the Listening Table via the video below and I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments section.
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