Beacon inside of a smart office

Future of Work

Ideas for using beacons in the office

Offices of the future will make you look like a superhero. The best part? The technology to get started is here today thanks to beacons and other connected devices.

Indoor positioning itself is not a new idea, but only recently has the tech become approachable. Helping devices know where in a building you are is a simple, but powerful idea.

It’s not all about the 20% off jeans

Today most beacon examples start in the retail space. Introducing someone to beacons as a way to push advertising deals is a bit like introducing GPS as a way to find the closest Macy’s. The “aha!” moment comes from no longer having to print out a small novel in Mapquest directions for your road trip. Beacons are bigger than a single industry, even if the early adopters today focus on the shopping applications.

So what else can beacons do in the office? We get asked this question a few times per week and even though we’re focused on booking calendars today, there’s no shortage of other great ideas to get us excited about the future of connected offices.

Here’s five smart office beacon applications (all possible today) that could become as common as the paperless office is today:

Redirect incoming calls to the phone you’re closest to

People forget that one of the big breakthroughs of the cell phone was that lines were no longer tied to a physical location and instead to a person. Generations of “Hi Mr. Jones is your son home?” sound strange by today’s comparison.

With beacons, an app can know what things a person standing near. This mean incoming phone calls to your desk phone could redirect to the conference room simply by you being there.

Start dialing meetings automatically

Going one step further, what if walking into a room automatically started dialing your conference call invitation codes? With remote meeting tools like Join.me and beacon context, cutting out the awkward step of hunting for passcodes could disappear.

Change the room’s TV to show your day’s schedule

What if entering a room put a personalized dashboard on the TV? No matter where you stood, you’d see a complete overview of all the news, schedule, and notifications you needed. Might be a little harder to hide your Facebook and ESPN addictions, but you still have some time to find an understanding boss in the meantime.

Search for available coworkers based on department

Working in a larger company, it’s easy to lose track of who belongs to each department. This makes finding coworkers tricky. With indoor presence, you could search for “The nearest available person in marketing” instead of wandering for a specific person. People get interrupted less, and you might even meet someone new.

Wayfinding – guide people to the nearest conference room

Big offices make it easy for new people to get lost. Why not take some of the same wayfinding technology used in conferences and make a smaller scale version for work? Your phone could help guide you all the way from the front lobby to the meeting area. The interns would definitely appreciate the help.

The Dunder Mifflin floor plan

The real benefit is helping you focus

Like any new technology, these ideas will probably seem obvious in five years. In the meantime, we’ll all do our part to experiment with what iBeacon and indoor positioning tech can do for work days of the future. Helpful technology isn’t just about robotically increasing efficiency — it’s also about helping you spend more time on the work you truly care about.

If you’re a developer, Robin’s API is a great place to start hacking together these and other real-world apps. Building something cool? We’d love to hear about it: @robinpowered