Your Work PC Will Soon Be Able To Read Your Gestures And Your Moods

Robotic Face by IBM researchers

Photo: Business Insider

There is a tidal wave of change coming to the devices you use for work.In as little as five years, gesture-based computing could become the norm in the workplace, Forrester analyst Frank Gillett told Business Insider.

But that’s not all. Enterprises will give their employees a completely new kind of computer. Instead of a PC and a phone, companies will issue something that Gillett calls a “frame.” The frame will work closely with other devices like tablets, PCs and smartphones.

“Think of the frame like a display, but instead of a dumb display, it’s quite smart,”¬†Gillett says.

The frame will be chock full of sensors, it will include WiFi, have a bunch of PC-like processing power and will operate via some kind of gesture control system, like Microsoft Kinect. 

“So it knows the temperature. It can read the frown on my face. It knows something about my moods and emotions by figuring out if I’m blushing .. things like that. It’s really watching and interacting with me. I can control it by gesture, I can control it by voice,” he describes.

The point of the frame will be to allow employees to choose whatever devices they want to use for work, while still providing them secure access to the software and data they need to do their jobs.

It’s the result of a phenom going on now called “bring your own device” (BYOD). Many employees are fed up with the devices their companies give them and are demanding to use their own. In February, Forrester published a survey of about 10,000 employees. About half of them said they use three or more devices for work and have paid for one or two of them themselves. Half bought their own tablets, nearly three-quarters their own smartphones.

Frank Gillett ForresterForrester Vice President, Principal Analyst, Frank Gillett

Photo: Forrester

The survey also found that most IT departments aren’t even aware of all the devices being used by employees. That’s a problem because if IT can’t see devices being used, it can’t make sure that corporate data is secure, that regulations concerning that data are being followed and that devices aren’t introducing viruses into the network.But the days of telling employees they can’t use their own devices are long gone. They are doing it whether the company approves or not.

So, here comes the frame. It will give IT control and give employees freedom.

Because the frame will have so many sensors, employees won’t need a mouse. They will be able to issue verbal commands to the frame, to tell it to search the Internet for something or find a specific document. They will be able to use gestures in the air to control it.

The frame will be like a universal docking station, making any device connected to it more powerful, like a tablet or smartphone. While the frame could be some kind of computer monitor, it could also be a wall in your cubby and in the conference rooms.

When the employee leaves work, the employer’s frame would stay at the office. Employees may have frames at home, too, for business and personal use. The next-version of TVs is likely to become a frame, Gillett believes.

He says “significant chunks” of the frame will arrive at the office within the next five years. We’re already seeing some of it in consumer products today, such as the Thunderbolt Display from Apple which acts like a hub for other Apple Thunderbolt devices; Apple’s AirPlay with Apple TV, which wirelessly streams content; Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows; and the gesture controlled Samsung Smart TV.

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