Digital smart desk will “eliminate the need for desktop computers”

Workspace furniture design company OpenDesk is set to launch a new digital smart desk in 2016, which will respond to movement and connect to the cloud.

Prototype of OpenDesk's "desk of the future"
Prototype of OpenDesk’s “desk of the future”

A digital “smart desk” that promises to improve health and wellbeing of those who use it is set to be launched next year.

Workspace furniture design company OpenDesk has been granted £25,000 from Innovate UK to create a desk which can be customised to the user.

The “desk of the future” will include a built-in computer “motherboard” which will connect with portable devices and would “eliminate the need for desktop technology altogether”, OpenDesk says. It will run on open source software, and will connect to the cloud.

Employees without a permanent desk space will be able to log in to personalised settings via a “desk cloud”, which aims to make “hot-desking much less impersonal”, says Tim Carrigan, co-founder at OpenDesk.

“Co-working spaces are becoming ever more popular but hot-desking hasn’t garnered quite so many fans,” he says. “A desk can be a very personal thing. It’s human nature to want a personalised space and we can be quite territorial about it.”

The desk will include LED notification lights, wireless charging and motion sensors, which will be used for features normally akin to a computer.

This includes turning on when the user is close by, going to sleep when they’re away from the desk, vibrating when emails are received or letting other colleagues know that the user is not available to take calls.

The desk will also have the capacity to rise to a standing position automatically, which aims to “boost productivity, and benefit the health and wellbeing of employees”, says the company.

Opendesk says the new desk will cost roughly £300, with additional features costing extra.

Carrigan says: “Our ‘smart desk’ will never be outdated as the embedded technology is upgradable and customisable.”

A prototype desk design has been completed by OpenDesk’s in-house design team. The company plans to hold a series of events this year to find “designers and hackers” to help build more model prototypes.

OpenDesk then aims to present three prototype models at London Design Festival event 100% Design next year.

The final design for the smart desk is expected to go to market by the end of 2016.

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