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IBM, Steelcase Show 'Smart' Cubicle

January 17, 2002|Bloomberg News

IBM Corp. and Steelcase Inc., the biggest office furniture maker, have teamed to develop a cubicle that uses sensors and wireless devices to make sharing information more effective.

The partially open desk area, called BlueSpace, allows users to control their lighting, heat and privacy. Information projected onto walls, desktops or floors can be changed with a finger used like a cursor.

After an 18-month research alliance, the two companies will test the modular system with potential buyers.

The display system works with a ceiling projector that casts an image of the computer screen on a wall or desktop. A camera near the projector tracks a person's gestures and captures shadows from a pointed finger so that gesture-recognition software can let a finger substitute for a mouse-controlled cursor.

Personal comfort and privacy also are goals. A touch screen beside an employee's computer can be used to control task lighting, airflow or temperature. Workers could direct heat to cold feet, for example.

A movable wall would use muted color-coded lighting near the ceiling to indicate when a worker is away, busy or accepting visitors. A separate panel display on the outside of the wall would let the worker post messages when away.

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