Working in a crowded office quickly teaches you the value of an open meeting room, but dealing with meeting room schedules will always and likely forever be a hassle. So a company called Visionect is trying to make it at least a little bit simpler. It's making 6-inch E Ink tablets that you can mount on the front of meeting rooms to display whether they're open or booked, and then allow people to come up and schedule a new meeting in a free block. The device also syncs over Wi-Fi with online calendars.
It's expensive for E Ink
There are already similar products that exist, including apps that can turn iPads into dedicated meeting room monitors. But Visionect points out that there's one big flaw with those options: not every company can easily run power to tablets mounted throughout their office. That's why Visionect's Joan Meeting Room Assistant tablets use E Ink displays, which don't require much power and should allow them to stay up and running on a single charge for around three months. That means there'll still be a bit of a hassle — having to take them down and recharge them — but it's better than having nothing up so that everyone in the office has to constantly load a calendar app to check who scheduled what for when.
The biggest downside to Visionect's tablets is probably the price: they cost $349 each. For that price, you could buy an old iPad mini and wire it up, then use a more powerful meeting app. Visionect seems to have the right idea, but I'm not sure if it'll work at this price. The product was announced last year, but it's now shipping; Visionect has also posted the video below to show how its product works.
Correction May 4th, 9:32AM ET: The company behind the Joan Meeting Room Assistant is called Visionect, not Joan, as this article previously stated.