PoE-Powered Smart Desk Tracks Occupancy, Reduces Energy Consumption

March 28, 2024
MHT Technologies’ Inspextor Smart Desk includes occupancy and temperature sensors with built-in monitoring and reporting software, while its PoE technology eliminates AC-to-DC power conversion.

MHT Technologies, which provides smart-building solutions including products within the MHT Lighting brand, recently announced the availability of the Inspextor Smart Desk for office spaces. According to MHT, the desk “can describe the surrounding environment to anyone looking for an optimal place to work.” The adjustable-height desk incorporates the proprietary Inspextor software solution that delivers programmable controls and generates real-time workplace data, MHT pointed out.

Smart Desk also incorporates Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology, which the company said “means every one of the desk’s cables is pulling double duty. In addition to delivering low-voltage power, PoE cables also send and receive data. This, along with Inspextor API, is what makes it possible for Inspextor Smart Desk to talk to various building or workplace management systems.”

Facility managers can relocate these smart desks anywhere without having to core drill, which is commonly required when moving electrical outlets. Additionally, the Inspextor Smart Desk reduces energy losses by as much as 20% by eliminating the AC-to-DC conversion for equipment including computers, LED desk lamps, and phones.

Upon arriving at an office equipped with Inspextor Smart Desks and being authenticated, a worker has two options for finding and reserving a desk via touchscreen kiosk; they can select the desk recommended by the system based on their preferred work environment—including desired locations, temperature, and proximity to others—or they can perform a real-time search of available desks that meet their needs in the moment. The data that the desk gathers provide insights into in-person work trends, including desk popularity by location and temperature, preferred desks by employee personas, and frequency of location changes per day.

“Layering in data from other workplace management systems, employers can use smart desk trends to track progress on all kinds of goals, including return-to-work, productivity, sustainability, and energy efficiency,” MHT commented.

MHT’s chief executive officer Akram Khalis said a number of emerging needs among commercial office tenants inspired the Inspextor Smart Desk’s development. One of those needs is to compete with home offices, which has given rise to what many call the “resimercial” workplace design. “A mashup of residential and commercial design elements, resimercial design seeks to replicate the creature comforts, not to mention the choice and autonomy, of a home office,” MHT explained when announcing the Smart Desk’s general availability.

Khalis noted, “Employers seeking to bring employees back on-site are turning to home offices for design ideas. After crafting deeply personalized workspaces during the pandemic, remote workers are reluctant to part with them. Smart desks offer greater agency, empowering employees with more control over their environment—a key draw of home offices.”

Cisco Systems is an early adopter of the Inspextor Smart Desk, having installed hundreds of smart desks inside its PENN1 (New York City) and Atlanta Collaboration Center offices over the past year. Cisco’s customer solutions marketing manager Jeff Meek observed, “The smart desks have been something of a savior in our office transition. They are part of the larger story about our company’s intention to remain flexible as the world of work changes. Most companies that employ people on-site are wrestling with a lot of unknowns around space planning and utilization, not to mention employee satisfaction. From HR to IT to infosec, we’ve had a lot of input to ensure the smart-desk integration checks all the right boxes on agility, security, and importantly, earning the commute of our employees.

“It has been fun to see visitors to our offices get excited about the desks too. We’ll bring people in for an hour-long tour and spend 30 minutes talking about the desk.”

Meek’s colleague Greg Smith, Cisco’s solutions marketing manager for hybrid work, added, “The energy efficiency and flexibility of smart desks is another big piece of our story of sustainability. It’s not just energy savings achieved by relentlessly powering down unused equipment based on occupancy and usage. The Inspextor Smart Desks also save us from having to install more expensive line-voltage cable and electrical power lines. This furthers our sustainability efforts while making it easier to adjust floor plans.”

You can find more information on the Inspextor Smart Desk from MHT Technologies here.

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