It’s worth talking about equity for a minute because I see that as a big driver here. And when we go through sort of the services that us at Arup can provide, as we’re thinking through what happened in the pandemic and what to do about it, so when we’re going out and working with our clients and talking about sort of the scales of how we ask the big question to try to figure out the questions that we’re answering, we can look at entire portfolios with them and we can look at buildings and we can look at the technology.
And when we talk through all of those services and thinking, the part that really takes the most, I found, is this discussion about the future of collaboration technology in the office. And when we talk about equity, we start talking about, like you mentioned, you might have some of your best talent that you used to spend all this money on to have buses and beautiful whatever, and now you have to somehow give them an experience that retains them at the job. The talent retention component of this.
So the idea of having almost broadcast scale – lights and cameras and microphones and all these things, because ultimately what you’re trying to do is if you remember maybe a decade or more ago, Cisco created the telepresence room, that was popular for a while, it was very expensive. And it gave you full scale visuals so a human of the same size is at a table with you virtually. And Cisco made you buy these expensive lights and cameras and everything and so very few people actually did it in the end. Well, this seems to be the mode that’s coming back of interest, is how do I create full life-size presence virtually. And so I think larger scale video screens are going to start popping up in the office, the ability to rapidly put in some cameras and some microphones and having them be decent with some decent lighting’s going to be important.
And then another really interesting component is sound and it’s somewhere down in the bottom. But part of the fatigue that we all experience is because of sound. And getting back to studies and data, there’s work that’s been shown if you actually turn off your camera, that you get better sense of emotion and how people are really thinking as they’re talking to you.
It’s counterintuitive, but you get more accurate information if you just are listening and you’re not confused by the way people are posturing. And so there’s work that’s trying to be done because… And I’ll stop on the sound thing for a second, it’s just really interesting to me. Which is that we’ve compressed sound, human three-dimensional sound, down to come out of this little point in your computer. And in addition, all these companies have made it so that if one person talks, it kind of silences everyone else, which is why it’s so hard to have a conversation and a group conversation. So we’re going to also start to see deployment of systems where you have spatialized audio, which is basically if you have a virtual room with 10 people, you’ll hear the people on your right, coming from your right, you’ll hear the people from the left coming from the left and those individual audio streams will be able to happen at the same time without fighting with each other.
And to get that naturalness, you have to have an array of speakers and you have to have a microphone that can differentiate. So none of those things are super expensive to deploy once they’re in Teams, in Zoom, in those things. So I think it’s going to be a combination of lighting, AV, and sound that at that scale you can start to create real equity. And then the question becomes how do you then deploy that in the office so it’s sensible and not crazy. And we got to work through all that.