Why you should care
Because it’s like a personal butler for the WFH set.
Face it, desk workers, you’ve heard the advice over and over again: Get up and move. You know a sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental to your health. But what do you do if work chains you to your desk all day? Charlene Leonard knows this dilemma well. A mom who works from her home office, she deals with a range of standard-issue hip problems. She’d heard a standing desk might be just the prescription, but none of the market options really caught her eye. Until she found a “smart” standing desk.
The SmartDesk 3, a new offering from Autonomous.ai, allows you to sit or stand up while you work, but it can also do some things your run-of-the-mill desk can’t do — like order lunch and maybe even a cab. It comes with a personal assistant (PA) that looks like an iPad Mini, through which you can move the desk up or down and access a whole butler’s worth of additional functions. When the desk prompts you to stand/sit, just tap the button to move the desk up/down. You can listen to Spotify and even order an Uber, all through visual prompts.
Worried about stress? Apps can also remind you at regular intervals to take a break: Shake your tail feather; look into the distance; stop working; find your Zen or rev up (quick push-ups against your desk).
The SmartDesk 3 works with Autonomous Smart Office, a fancy term for its own artificial intelligence, that remembers your settings and the frequency of your activities so the experience gets more intuitive with use. A feature under development: If you tend to order sushi every day at noon from the restaurant down the street, for example, the PA will send an alert about lunchtime and ask, “Sushi again?” — and even suggest a few other places to explore for something new. Other features in the works: gauging your music habits (don’t worry, it won’t judge if Taylor Swift’s on there) and creating favorite playlists for different times of the day.
The desk ($549), which has sold about 1,000 units via its website so far, has its own open-source software development unit, explains Ning Tan, the communications director for Autonomous.ai, so any programmers can create and share productivity apps. Users can choose to download these or not.
… remembers your settings and the frequency of your activities so the experience gets more intuitive with use.
You might wonder: Won’t all that nudging all day long get annoying after a while? No, says Tan. It’s why the prompts are visual, not voice-activated — they’re meant to support, not disrupt. You’ll just have to take her word for it.
Workaholics beware, the SmartDesk 3 will not prompt you when bedtime is near. What it will include in the near future: a sunset notification to turn the lights on and avoid eye strain.
From what I can tell, there is one important thing that the SmartDesk 3 doesn’t do — yet. Your work! Maybe file that too under Coming Attractions?