“There’s a lot of potential to build off existing technologies if you can recognize the right business use.”

The Kiplinger Letter has forecast future trends set to change the way we work for 90 years. According to a statement released by the letter, In 1959, they forecast copiers and printers, and in 1963, it mentioned “pocket gadgets” that would allow workers to call anyone from anywhere.



Earlier this week, the publication released its newest installation of the letter, with eight technologies editors think will soon be invading office spaces everywhere. And although some of the technology makes us feel a bit uncomfortable on the privacy front, there’s some pretty cool stuff too.

“There’s a lot of potential to build off existing technologies if you can recognize the right business use,” wrote John Miley, reporter for the Kiplinger Letter, in an email to Upstart Business Journal. “Along with bringing down the cost enough to make it a valuable investment for businesses.”

Some of the technology already exists, but just isn’t seeing widespread adoption. Check out the future technologies that may be invading your office, for better or for worse.

  • Office drones: Kiplinger says small drones will soon be able to autonomously navigate office corridors and stairwells to track down workers, deliver packages and survey the office. This would freak me out. If anyone ever tries to put a drone in my office, I’ll put a bell on it and shoot it with rubber bands anytime it gets too close.
  • Artificial intelligence at your desktop: Futuristic AI software will be able to draft your response to an email by scraping the Web and other databases for relevant information, according to Kiplinger. And now I’m terrified. I’m OK with predictive analytics like what Google uses to automatically give me five choices when type “How do I” into their search bar (How do I put this gently, and How do I get iOS7 are the top two), but I’ll answer my own dang emails, thank you very much. Or as the case may be, delete them without even opening them up.
  • Sensors that track your every move: Employee badges with embedded sensors will keep tabs on workers throughout their workday, according to the letter, providing insights on behavior that might lead to changes to office design and meetings. Data from the badges may show broad workplace trends, but the personal tracking creeps me out.
  • Smart work clothes: Work clothes of the future will self adjust to your body, providing a comfortable fit whether you’re standing or sitting, according to Kiplinger. Next-generation apparel will charge mobile devices directly and become a platform for computing via transistors embedded in the clothes. Not sure how I’d use embedded transistors in my shirt, though the auto-fitting pants sound sweet.
  • Roaming robots: Robots will provide managers and security personnel with 24-hour surveillance of office space. Employee interactions with these mechanical staffers will increase information sharing and productivity, and make a manager’s daily rounds less essential—which is cool if you hate your boss, but sounds like it could get a bit little lonely too.
  • A computer that reads you: Spatial computing technology will let users run PowerPoint-style presentations on screens mounted on walls with gestures or motion-enabled remote controls, according to the letter. This is the old Minority Report computer, still trying to become a part of our daily reality. Unless you like your carpal tunnel syndrome, this technology doesn’t seem to have a huge downside.
  • Wireless charging: Desks and office furniture will come equipped with built-in chargers that don’t require plugs or cords. As I kick away the cords trying to strangle my feet at the exact moment I write this, these wireless chargers sound pretty great to me.
  • So long, office computer: According to the letter, by 2016, nearly 40 percent of U.S. businesses won’t provide corporate-issued devices, such as iPads, BlackBerrys and desktop computers. Which is fine, so long as the boss doesn’t expect me to answer my private cell phone at 2 a.m. If he paid for it though, that’s another story.

Photo credit: Tech Day

Via Upstart Business Journal