Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Fourth Place: Working Anywhere


My brother Nick and I have recently begun working on another prototype of a project we started quite some time ago, the OpenAire which combines a laptop carrying case, work surface, and chair into a lightweight hybrid that can enable computing anywhere. The system consists of a semi-rigid protective sleeve designed as an ergonomic laptop work surface and a protective shell that also functions as a comfortable seat.

Here is the latest prototype which we are continuing to refine:





We imagine that this concept would enable a Fourth Place for work, atomizing the work experience even further than the recent pervasiveness of semi-public spaces like my favorite, The Summit SF becoming quite common in major cities. Still the infrastructure that would equip us to work in the spaces between office, home and third places has not materialized. We believe this concept really begs for a more robust infrastructure of power and wireless that would be pervasive throughout the city. It begs the question, 5 years after Nick and I began designing this based on the assumption that WiMax or MuniFi would enable mobile working, why haven't we seen these technologies come to fruition? Cloud-based software and file storage is bringing us closer to being truly portable but the utilities necessary for this nomadic workforce still seem a ways out on the horizon. Battery life is also still behind the curve of the development of many of the apps and cloud-based computing that would thrive in a world where we have access to several hours of power. The good news is that most knowledge workers can now work on fast, nimble hardware like the MacBook Air which can process web and email-based tasks for an entire work day, untethered.

Here are the original renderings which were featured in, Business Insider, and several other blogs.






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