At CES, We Found 8 Awesome Solutions to Boost Your Productivity This Year
Mindset shifts, goal-setting techniques and leather-bound planners will only go so far in helping you get more done this year. For many, data is playing a bigger role in productivity.
Today, when we need to remember something, rest or keep moving, we can now monitor how we’re faring in our environments and adjust them accordingly. And when we need to access our work quickly, connectivity and increased security can help us be productive from nearly anywhere. For instance, we have an idea of how desk height and lighting affect output, but technological and financial barriers have previously limited most people for having concrete proof of what works best for them.
To see what is on the horizon in terms of data being used to boost productivity, we checked out a range of new devices on display at CES this year to help you focus, de-stress, sleep and manage life’s little details.
Click through the slideshow to see how tech can help us accomplish more than ever thought possible with some simple-to-use tools that reduce the complexities of everyday life.
A sit-stand desk that will generate data about ergonomics
Designed for home or corporate offices, it requires little assembly, aside from unboxing and mounting a laptop (or up to two monitors). It hides cables to keep workspaces clutter-free and has a self-locking mechanism for quick and easy adjustment.
In a white paper about workplace ergonomics, HumanScale notes that “A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association surveyed roughly 29,000 computer users and found that 52.7 percent were working with at least one form of daily musculoskeletal discomfort. The average lost productive time among those experiencing discomfort was more than 5.2 hours per week.”
This discomfort is often due to the fact that the standard work surface height correlates to the seated elbow height of a 6-foot-4-inch male. “As a result,” the paper states, “employees are forced to conform their bodies to an inappropriate fixed height … These awkward postures require excessive muscle effort and lead to discomfort and fatigue.”
At CES, HumanScale is also offering a first look at its new web-based program, ErgoIQ, that allows employers and individuals to monitor whether workstations are optimally comfortable and ergonomic, providing aggregated data and suggested solutions and eliminating the need for a visit from a third-party consultant.
A wearable that vibrates to calm you down
From general stress and insomnia to autism, ADHD and PTSD, the Touchpoints wearable device is designed to provide calm relief to users with a range of needs.
The neuroscience-based solution, which can be worn on wrists, held in hands or clipped onto clothing on opposite sides of the body, delivers alternating bilateral stimulation, or vibrations. These target and reduce bodily responses to stress, such as feelings of butterflies in the stomach or chest tightness. The technique has been proven to relieve stress by over 70 percent in just 30 seconds, according to the company.
The pattern of the vibrations create a tactile stimulation that, when registered by the brain, shifts the body from fight-or-flight mode (sympathetic nervous system) to a logical, rational way of thinking (parasympathetic). Thoughts that normally induce stress develop more positive associations, and the wearer can think more clearly. The wearable kit aims to help improve sleep, productivity and focus, as well as manage anxiety, anger and cravings.
The company has just released its new Personalized Stress Profile app upgrade, which asks users to answer 12 questions to determine how they respond to stress. The app then provides an easy-to-understand breakdown, complete with emoji, and issues lifestyle tips for overall stress relief and increased productivity.
A bookable booth for meetings on demand
Forget pricey co-working spaces and conference rooms -- and especially noisy coffee shops. ZenSpace creates meeting pods for individual work or one-on-one client meetings, available for flexible on-demand booking, calendar integration and automatic payment via the ZenSpace app.
Each soundproof, standalone pod is equipped with an internet connection, video displays, a smart lock and voice assistant capabilities. Companies can add ZenSpace units to their spaces as for their own employees, or as a well to generate revenue from unused space.
Gallup researchers have found that employees who can move to different areas during the workday are 1.3 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.
A password manager that makes you remember only pictures
A praying mantis smoking a cigarette? Someone in a rabbit costume standing on a dock with their back turned to the camera? You may not be able to remember a gibberish string of numbers, letters and special characters for all of your online accounts, but chances are, you’ll recall those quirky visuals.
Valt, which launched at CES this week, is a password management platform that remembers (and encrypts) passwords for iPhone and Mac users. You either manually input them, or a Valt browser plugin for Chrome or Safari users collects them -- and notifies you -- when you log in to each account.
You unlock your Valt by correctly selecting your images from grids of images. Choosing all nine correctly prompts Valt to translate your selections back into a random text password. Then, it can log into your accounts on demand as you browse the web. It will input passwords for you when you visit sites, and it will even generate new passwords when it’s time to update them.
A study by Intel found that 37 percent of people forget one of their passwords at least once a week. From there, it takes time to go through the steps to reset a password, if not create a new account entirely. Valt aims to remove this time-consuming inconvenience from people’s lives while keeping them more secure.
A mini mobile document-scanning wand
Whether you want to capture a book passage, business card, contract or receipt, don’t bury it in your phone’s camera roll or trudge over to the office copier/scanner. The Pup from French startup 7NEXT is a mobile wand-like device that allows users to scan, store (via cloud) and share documents (via email or social media) with the click of a button.
The device, which has received more than $1 million in pre-order from Indiegogo backers, has been available for pre-order and officially launches and ships this month. The Pup is wireless and can capture up to 2,000 images in offline mode, generating non-grainy images of printed photographs, PDFs from multi-page scans and more. It can also translate text documents into Word or Excel formats. Just choose your scenario or type of document, align it with the scanner’s patented laser system, then click and auto-send. You’ll save yourself a walk over to the scanner, if not the need to adjust settings for different document types and time spent saving scan files in the correct folder on your device. The Pup is designed to eliminate these extra steps that zap productivity.
A pillow-like sleep robot
In fall 2015, a group of robotics students at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands set out with two objectives: to make a “cuddly robot” and to build a solution to sleep deprivation.
Today, their creation, Somnox, is available for pre-order (slated to ship this summer) after a November Kickstarter campaign quickly exceeded its funding goal. It’s a sleep companion that users “spoon,” according to the website, or cuddle like a stuffed animal. The object provides something to focus on other than worries or sleeplessness itself.
One of Somnox’s key features is that it simulates breathing patterns, based on research that has shown that a breathing rhythm can reduce stress and induce sleep. It subtly expands and contracts, lulling users to synchronize their own breathing. (Breathing patterns are adjustable via an app). It can also play a user’s choice of lullabies, white noise, audiobooks, guided meditation, a heartbeat sound and more, turning them off once the user falls asleep. Like many data-collecting devices hitting the market, Somnox’s features are meant to not just quantify behaviors, but help people adapt.
Shoes that keep you and your team on your toes
MEGAComfort makes workplace footwear accessories such as socks, insoles and overshoes, designed for safety and comfort. Its newest product, the Energysole, is a memory foam, shock-absorbing insole with smart sensors. It records three-dimensional data about foot striking patterns -- up to 50 times per second -- for real-time analysis via app.
From there, the app provides insights to users about how they can change the way they move to reduce pain and fatigue. Beyond that, it’s a health tool that reveals information about supination and pronation, as well as counts steps taken, calories burned and distance covered.
Studies have shown that walking more lowers risks of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, which is linked with decreased cognitive function.
Users can set daily goals for these metrics, as well as access a secure group site where companies, clubs teams and other groups can monitor their performance together and create incentive programs for hitting certain milestones.
Monitor workplace conditions from a desktop cube
At CES, French startup GreenMe is launching its environmental monitoring product in the North American market after successfully installing it in more than 80 offices across Europe. It’s a system designed to help property management companies and businesses generally monitor and optimize the temperature, air quality, humidity, noise, lighting and more in their facilities.
Small, green, cube-shaped sensors collect this data, which employers can view via mobile app or desktop dashboard. The hub sends alerts and regular reports to the client, who can then compare the data to any productivity metrics or HR information -- as well as employee feedback -- to determine which environmental factors are diminishing productivity and adjust conditions accordingly. GreenMe’s goal is to improve indoor working conditions to promote engagement, creativity, productivity, job retention and satisfaction, reduce sick days and minimize operational costs.