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WIRED: The workplace of the future

According to experts like WWT's Collaboration Practice Director Joe Berger, technology is powering collaboration like never before — transforming the workplace and how we do business for generations to come.

September 5, 2019

Posted by WIRED in July 2018:

In 2005, Juan Wachs, a rising medical student at Medstar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, found himself in the last place imaginable — the frontline of battle. "I was working on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence in the medical field when I was called up from the reserves to join a platoon," Wachs recalls. "Suddenly, I was engaged in conflicts and saw firsthand the need for a new type of technology — one to support soldiers in the field."

Wachs, 47, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, moving in his twenties between the US and Israel (where he served two years in the Army) before completing his training at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, his life mission devoted to one goal — saving the lives of soldiers. Now, he works as the head of the Intelligent Systems and Assistive Technologies Lab at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, partnering with elite fighting units like Navy SEALs to create cutting-edge collaborative tools to treat soldiers in remote locations around the world. Sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, he and his team are developing devices like augmented reality lens to allow surgeons to collaborate via hologram-like visuals in real time from afar, AI-imbued robots to assist doctors in operations, and even top-secret tools that will allow surgeons to communicate with each other from across the globe using all five senses — the ultimate frontier of workplace collaboration. “We are basically looking at how to teleport people,” says Wachs, who uses conferencing tools like Cisco Webex to develop these projects with colleagues around the world. “For instance, we are creating a device that can teleport scenarios, providing the sound, sight, touch and even smell of a situation. It may sound like science fiction, but imagine distant doctors being able to treat you as if they were physically present — this is where the future of medical work is going.”

Wachs is at the forefront of a technological revolution transforming how we collaborate in business, school and healthcare, workers using smart devices to interact instantly in multiple ways from anywhere across the globe, giving teams the ultimate tool — freedom. From AI transforming boardrooms into multimedia platforms to digital whiteboards enabling video-enhanced collaboration in classrooms to AR empowering surgeons to save lives from afar, workplace technologies are revolutionizing our lives, creating a more productive and efficient world. This new workplace is defined by three major points of innovation: technology, office space and how the two are combining to transform team collaboration. “Technology is now allowing people to be on the same page no matter their location,” says Joe Berger, the Practice Director for Collaboration at World Wide Technology, a global technology provider and systems integration business. “Now, we’re entering a new phase of collaboration where team members can use tools to speed up innovation, jumping from the boardroom to their personal devices while keeping the conversation going via video and messaging apps to finish the job, even when they’re not in the same office or time zone — this is the future of work.”

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