Ampersand is a suite of products devoted to empowering collaboration in the workspace. By encouraging participation and communication, Ampersand is designed to bring workers together, wherever they may be. Ampersand recognizes that success in business is a product of teamwork between individuals. When barriers to collaboration are solved and everyone is included, great things happen.
The experience of working remotely for many professionals has opened our eyes to the possibilities and limitations of long-distance collaboration. Working together will always be more powerful than any individual efforts, and Ampersand celebrates this. Through the Ampersand App, Lamp, Projector, and Tile, professionals from all over the world are empowered to join together with ease. Workplaces may change, but Ampersand ensures teamwork will remain a cornerstone of every successful project.
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how people work. For many, the experience of working from home has illuminated the need for a more connected workforce among physically distanced coworkers. While there have been positives and negatives to remote working, this ordeal will surely influence operations in a post-pandemic future. Moving forward, professionals will likely be enabled to continue to collaborate from any location. Physical distance doesn't have to detract from a collaborative experience, and members of a team shouldn't be restricted from participation due to their location. As workplaces will likely operate differently in the next 5-10 years, it is necessary to design means to support that future.
This is where Ampersand comes in. It is a collection of four products, committed to simplifying communication, collaboration, interaction, and virtual connection in the workplace. The Ampersand collection was designed entirely remotely by a group of college seniors, inspired by our own experiences of collaborating while isolated. We harnessed our empathy and optimism to envision how professional workplaces will evolve from this experience, and what tools will be needed moving forward.
The first element of the Ampersand environment is the Virtual Work Hub, "&." The application is designed for clarity, productivity, and connectivity. With more workers collaborating from home or satellite offices, the need for communication rises. Using simple forms and interactions to indicate status and availability, the Ampersand app encourages collaboration between coworkers. In addition to visualizing worker activity, the app condenses all of your most essential information into one centralized location. Emails, calendar, reminders, and recent files are all accessible and shareable in the & app.
The Virtual Hub prioritizes transparency, a quality which has diminished in many remote work environments. With the & app, employees can be confident that even if they are working from home, their contributions are still apparent. Employers and coworkers can easily see recent file history and edits by selecting a worker's icon. Meetings, discussion, and activity are illustrated in a simple manner, to mimic the atmosphere of a productive office.
The app also features a digital whiteboard interface, which is utilized by the Collaborative Projectors. Ampersand Projectors are sleek, portable projection devices that create smart surfaces on demand. The smart projectors can operate individually or in tandem, to display images and interpret user gestures and precise input from the Stylus. With a long-lasting battery, users may bring Projectors to meetings large or small, in-house or at the local coffee spot.
During collaboration sessions, users may use the Ampersand Projectors and Styluses to promote active brainstorming and concept development between teammates. Remote team members have access to the whiteboard through the & app, enabling seamless participation with in-house coworkers. The Styluses and Projectors all charge on an Ampersand induction charging base, which can easily store and charge cell phones and other personal electronics during meetings.
Synchronous meetings are brought to a whole new level of interaction by combining the Collaborative Projectors and the Communication Lamp. The Ampersand Lamp simulates face-to-face conversation between in-house and remote teammates, through multi-directional cameras and a flexible, transparent screen. The screen features a conference mode for displaying the "speaker view" during video calls, as well as a diffuse screensaver. When not in use, the camera retracts into the Lamp, ensuring user privacy and comfort.
The Communication Lamp provides a more natural feeling video call for all involved. The retractable cameras offer a 360° view of the conference room for remote workers, while the adaptive lampshade displays remote workers at comfortable eye-level for those in the office. Remote workers may easily view the conference room, while also focusing their view on a specific speaker or object. Those in the conference room are able to move about casually as they participate, not tethered to a desk and a webcam.
The final device in the Ampersand suite is the haptic tile. Made possible through the technology of ultrasonic projection, the Tile engages users' sense of touch in an increasingly digital world. The Tile facilitates the iterative design process by allowing employees to quickly send and review 3D models. Need feedback on the ergonomics of a part? The Tile lets coworkers and clients feel and even alter details of a model, without the need for bulky gloves. On top of evaluating and editing, the Haptic Tile also engages ultrasonic imaging to scan existing models and assets and transform them into shareable 3D files.
Tiles are optimized for use with augmented reality headsets, which will no doubt become more prevalent in both casual and professional use in coming years. In addition to AR, orthographic views are displayed on the screens of each tile to assist in surface modelling. Inside each Tile is an array of small ultrasonic transducers which function together to produce detailed haptic bodies. With the Haptic Tile, teammates are prepared to work together to design the best products, even from around the world.
With each element of the Ampersand product line, specific needs were evaluated and addressed. And like any good team, each element of the suite works to support each other, as well as serving its own distinct function. Professional workplaces are evolving rapidly, and inevitable changes in work style and structure will see more people operating within a hybrid environment. The benefits of the hybrid workplace are reinforced within the Ampersand Suite, while areas of friction are resolved. By promoting transparency and engagement, physically distanced teammates are more connected than ever. This inviting family of products celebrates workers, and the endless possibilities that emerge when you bring those workers together.