Feeds

Germans increase office efficiency with 'cloud ceiling'

Worker output boosted by illusion of open sky overhead

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

So you thought you had deployed every form of office technology that could possibly increase the productivity of your company's cripplingly expensive salaried employees? You were wrong. Remorseless German boffins have discovered a way to make office workers still more efficient using - quite literally in this case - cloud technology.

Prototype 'virtual sky'. Credit: Fraunhofer Institutes

Why not encourage some blue sky thinking?

According to the top researchers of the Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation (IAO) in Stuttgart, the human mind is set up to work at its best under the open sky, with changing illumination caused by clouds passing overhead. The unvarying glare of office lighting is sub-optimal, therefore, and in order to wring the last ounce of efficiency from German workers whose productivity has already been pushed to unprecedented heights they have decided to rectify this.

Their answer is the installation of luminous LED-equipped ceiling tiles which project a low-resolution moving image suggesting clouds rolling across the sky above office workers.

“Each tile comprises an LED board with 288 light emitting diodes (LEDs),” states Dr Matthias Bues, head of department at the IAO. “The board is mounted on the ceiling. A diffuser film in matt white is attached approximately 30cm beneath the LEDs and ensures that the individual points of light are not perceived as such. This diffuser film creates homogenous lighting that illuminates the room throughout.”

This "virtual sky" system, as the Fraunhofer boffins describe it, has been tested on human volunteers in order to determine the optimum settings.

“The LEDs allow us to simulate these dynamic changes in lighting in a way that is not directly obvious to the naked eye. Otherwise the lighting might distract people from their work. But it does need to fluctuate enough to promote concentration and heighten alertness,” says Bues.

The Fraunhofer Institute's press statement doesn't give any actual concrete figures on improved worker productivity in terms, say, of more BMWs or tanks successfully designed and manufactured. But it does say:

Results of a preliminary study indicate that users find this dynamic lighting to be extremely pleasant. The study involved ten volunteers ... Throughout the first day, the lighting remained static. On the second day, it fluctuated gently, and on the third day the fluctuations were rapid. On the fourth day, the participants could choose which type of lighting they wanted, and 80 percent opted for the fast, dynamic lighting.

Unfortunately the battery-farm style worker efficiency overheads still cost €1,000 per square metre, but the Fraunhofer boffins expect this to come down (presumably because they have installed early sets in the plant fabricating the tiles). ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.