Take it from me: working remotely is awesome. But sometimes it would be nice to have some face time with my National Magazine Award-winning colleagues without having to fire up iChat in my dumpy looking apartment. Maybe my local co-working space could invest in the media:scape videoconferencing solution from Steelcase, which just won a Bronze medal from the Edison Best New Product Awards. Instead of a drab conference room full of intimidating cables and adapters, Media:scape is designed to be casually comfortable for a "walk-up and connect" experience.
The big idea with Media:scape -- which Steelcase hit upon after doing extensive ethnographic research -- is that videoconferencing should be just as fluid and casual as trotting over to someone's desk down the hall. Their innovative Puck system allows just that: an employee steps up to the suite, parks in one of Steelcase's appealing, cafe-like chairs, and pulls a Puck out of the countertop which connects to their laptop. One tap on the Puck and poof, the video conference begins, including file and screen-sharing from multiple computers in the group.
Media:scape integrates with industry-standard videoconference hookups and provides a user-friendly shell around them that makes long-distance meetings feel more like informal coffee klatches. "Most videoconferencing environments are formal meeting spaces, with little emphasis on sharing and developing content," Steelcase says. "In contrast, Media:scape with HD videoconferencing environments encourage engagement, and allow access to and sharing of information by any meeting participant with the touch of a button." Indeed. If the next version of Media:scape comes with a built-in espresso maker, they'll have the total package.