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In a world where people can work from home, why sacrifice the convenience and comfort in an office space?

Design and coworking spaces are constantly changing. And while it seems hard to keep up initially, understanding how wireless power is completely changing the way we designspaces is a big first step.

WIRELESS POWER IN WORK SPACES

Just a couple of decades ago, the workplace was designed around the significant technology explosion of USB and other cables. So many new technologies needed to be connected – to sync, to charge, and to function at all.

This required several changes to workplace design. In an effort to accommodate the cables and cords that were so prevalent in workspaces, furniture made a shift. Desktops and bench style tables were designed to include troughs or other under-surface cable organizers. Raised floors were invented in an effort to manage cables, cords, connections, and power charging without cluttering desks, conference rooms, and other shared spaces.

Even with these new design styles, designing new methods for cable management were the beginning of countless startups, technology branches, and other new designs. But as we’ve learned in Business School, leadership books, and TED Talks alike, incremental change isn’t the way to a blue ocean strategy.

Fast forward to the mid-2010s and we’ve seen massive changes in how the workspace is designed.

With the emergence of Bluetooth and wireless power, cables no longer need to be managed but rather sought.

Gone are the days of needing to charge your phone in your car during your lunch breaks. Office spaces, restaurants, and hospitality spaces are all finding the great value in wireless power within their walls.

 

WIRELESS POWER BENEFITS FOR DESIGNERS AND MARKETERS

Wireless power encourages smartphone owners to find the nearest pad, case, or any other home for inductive coupling. Rather than being chained to a wall by a 3ft cable, users can set down their phones on a surface that will charge their phones. Some of the biggest benefits include:

Benefit 1

Eliminating the need to remember to pack a charger when staying at a hotel with wireless power

 

Benefit 1

Reducing the need to use a car charger rather than plug in at work, in airports, or at a coffee shop with wireless power

 

Eliminating the need to buy phone chargers by the dozen

 

 

These benefits alone can influence a decision on where to stay for vacation, where to work, what airport to use, and what brand of charger to swear by. As designers, it’s critical to maintain spaces that complement those who work within it. And as marketers, it’s just as critical to understand pain points that led to these design shifts.

While designing with these new technologies may force costs to be incurred sooner rather than later, they are quickly becoming the expectation for the base norm.

The Universal Serial Bus was originally developed to be an industry standard connection between communications, computers, and other devices. Dubbed the USB, this technology quickly replaced previous standards that hadn’t been regulated across devices. It became the gold standard, the Lingua Franca of the technological boom.

5 MAIN USB VERSIONS AND WHAT THEY DELIVER

There are dozens of different types of USBs, from 1.0-4.0, A-C, and even minis – and it’s tough to keep track of which ones perform what.

USB 1.0

USB 1.0 Capabilities

 

USB 1.0 was originally designed in an effort to streamline connection between all devices. After arriving on the scene in 1996, USB 1.0 became the go-to standard between brands, technologies, and devices.

 

USB 2.0

USB 2.0 Capabilities

 

After USB 1.0 took off in popularity, USB 2.0 set out to increase speed for connecting, charging, and sharing. USB 2.0 went through several iterations over a multiple year span, becoming a critical innovation from 2000-2010 that ushered in a new age of expected speed and accuracy for syncing devices, charging rapidly, and sharing downloads and uploads seamlessly.

 

USB 3.0

USB 3.0 Capabilities

 

USB 3.0 was developed basically to shame anyone who thought 2.0 was truly an upgrade (kind of). It introduced the USB “SuperSpeed” capability, as well as improving data transfer and charging speeds. USB 3.0 ports are denoted with a blue color code (or the super sweet SS initials).

 

4 Key Differences

USB 4.0 Capabilities

 

USB 4.0 was developed to improve upon data transfer rates up to 40 Gbps and interoperability with Thunderbolt.  This capability will available on the USB-C connector and cable.

 

5 Key Differences

USB Type-C Capabilities

 

 

USB Type-C is backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0, eliminating the compatibility with Type-A ports. Almost any device that supports USB 3.1 use USB-C port. Both ends of the USB cable are the same which allows a device to be connected with reversible plug orientation, so you never have to worry about plugging in your device the wrong way. USB Type-C delivers more power which gives the opportunity to charge larger electronics, such as laptops.  

 

WHY DO THE DIFFERENT USB VERSIONS MATTER?

Each USB version delivers different speeds and works with different ports.

It’s important to understand which USB versions work best on which power levels. In order to incorporate USB ports into designing spaces and furniture, it is critical to know what USB version will fit most efficiently. Whether you are looking for a fast charge to keep people moving along, a trickle charge hoping they’ll stick around longer, or the ability to sync and share between other devices like printers and computers, you’ll need to know each capacity.

An easy fallback is to assume that USB 2.0 ports will work well when incorporating into furniture. While USB 3.0 is even better, USB 2.0 is still internationally the most compatible option. In theory, USB 3.0 was developed to work on 2.0 ports and for 3.0 ports to also accept 2.0 charging and data transfers.

As always, the supplier of your tech will know best – don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, they’re there to help you succeed.

You’re probably the coworker that scares all IT and safety managers to death.

Why?

Oh let’s see, because you always have a coffee mug filled to the brim on your desk? Or your stylish water tumbler tucked out of your sight lines behind your computer monitor so you can take cute Instagram pictures of your work space?

Imagine the havoc spilling any liquid near a system of electrical outlets would wreak. Not just on your computer, but potentially anyone else who is plugged into the same outlet or stretch of outlets.

But coffee is essential to creativity and directly linked to job happiness, so don’t put that cup away just yet.

HOW DO SPILL-PROOF SIMPLEXES IMPROVE WORK PRODUCTIVITY AND SAFETY?

Enter: spill-proof technology. A UL tested and approved simplex, this design allows for a safer environment with liquids near electrical outlets.

In order for an outlet to be considered Spill-Proof, it must pass the UL Spill Test. This test was developed to ensure that there would be no electrical shock in the event of a liquid spilling on a power unit utilizing the Spill-Proof technology. (The spill test is performed with nothing plugged in the unit) This means that if the circuit breaker in the electrical closet trips, you can unplug everything and start mopping up the coffee. Once the breaker has been reset, the systems will continue to run unaffected and you are able to finish cleaning up your spilled coffee while your coworkers all Snapchat your shame.

HOW DOES THE SPILL-PROOF TECHNOLOGY WORK?

To pass the UL Spill Test, liquid can’t create a path between hot, neutral, and ground terminals.

But what does that even mean?

 

Simplex A

This is a simplex (Simplex A) designed for flush-mounted power units (i.e. a power unit integrated into your desk surface where your computer and monitor are plugged in). All three openings required for establishing an electrical current (hot, neutral, and ground terminals) cannot allow liquid to bridge across them. You can note that these three openings have edges for the upward-facing-mounted power units specifically developed to stave away liquids from creating an electrical path between the terminals.

For this to work on power units on an angle or in troughs underneath the desktops themselves, there is a separate Spill-Proof simplex (Simplex B) that has passed the UL Spill Test as well.

Simplex B

Again, liquid cannot the liquid to pool across the terminal in order to pass the UL Spill Test.

SPILL-PROOF TECHNOLOGY IS IMPROVING WORKSPACES AND DESIGNS

When designing spaces or developing marketing material around new spaces, be sure to include Spill-Proof Technology. Not only does it improve the longevity of the workspace and the safety of its immediate value, but it also means you can enjoy that Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte with Almond Milk at your desk.

People are changing the way we work every single day. And technology slowly shifts to match the new trends that people create. If you want your spaces to be designed around people or marketing to people, then it’s imperative to incorporate the necessary technology and upgrades to do so.

 

We live in a day in age focused around Millennials. We want to know how they think, what influences their decisions, and how we can appeal to them. Many current design efforts are built to accommodate Millennial ideals, but are they the generation we should really be focused on?

THE I-GENERATION AND THE EXPLOSION OF TECHNOLOGY

I was at a Digital Marketing conference in Boston not too long ago and one of the presenters told a narrative that paints the perfect picture of how technology is affecting this youngest generation. He had been speaking to a group of teenagers and posed the question, “Would you rather have your phone taken away from you forever or have one of your fingers removed to keep your phone?” One girl raised her hand and asked, “Do we get to pick which finger?”

That sums up this generation. Their smartphones are an appendage, and an important one at that.

The i-Generation, born from 1996 to 2010, is a segment that was immersed into connective technology from the start of their lives. Baby boomers grew up during the expansion of television, Generation X had the introduction of computers, and Millennials were raised with the internet bursting onto the scene. i-Gen had all of these technologies at the touch of a finger from the get-go. Social media and constant connectivity has shaped this generation to possess an “always on” mentality.  (2019, Dimock)

They were born in an era of exploding technology – smartphones, tablets, integrated home tech, bots, and Alexa. They went to elementary school with iPads and grew up with the ability to make a HotSpot if they ever found themselves without internet. They are being raised having never known a life without instant and constant Wi-Fi.

This is the way evolution happens. Each generation makes leaps and bounds in one direction, and the next generation either gets to ride the wave or change direction. So far, this “i-Generation”, or Gen Z, has been able to ride the Millennial tech wave.

WHAT DOES GENERATION Z HAVE TO DO WITH ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN?

They can figure anything out online. They can solve problems, find groups, communicate, play games, get jobs, study, take classes, and even have full relationships online. Probably most of the things they do on their devices they don’t even realize actually require internet.

So what does this mean for you when you’re designing spaces?

The next generation doesn’t expect to be able to stay connected everywhere they go. They assume they will be able to.

Restaurants that add in power strips after they were built and hotels that hire electricians to build more outlets are missing the point. New spaces need to be designed with this assumption in mind – that anyone and everyone will be able to charge and stay connected 24/7 no matter where they are.

STAYING CHARGED, CONNECTED, AND POWERFUL THROUGH BEAUTIFUL DESIGN

With the ascension of cables being tucked away under floors and behind walls, released into the open through grommets, power and charging has become an accessory for spaces. Constantly updating colors, designs, styles, materials, configurations, and utility, these accessories not only fit into design – they enhance design.

These charging accessories lend themselves to Generation Z and every generation before. They’re solutions to problems that designers are constantly running into because they solve for today and for tomorrow. And they do so with grace and beauty.

After all, why give up a finger for a phone that you can’t keep charged?