Just when you’d managed to clear your workstation from distractions—switching off app alerts, perhaps even redesigning your entire office—along comes the Gaze Desk to ruin it all. The Gaze is billed as the “World’s Smart [sic] and Ergonomic Standing Desk,” and while it looks no more ergonomic than any other standing desk, it is certainly smart enough to stop you ever doing any work again.
As a standing desk, the Gaze does everything it needs to do. It has a motor to switch between sitting and standing without you, the user, having to expend any calories, and it has a little raised shelf at the back to bring your computer monitor into your eye-line. It even, says the blurb, “reimagines the workspace,” presumably by costing around $1,000 for a desk with an MDF top.
But the Gaze’s real selling point is that it connects to your smartphone, allowing the distraction to begin in earnest.
The desk comes with a sensor that tells it whether it is in sitting or standing mode and communicates this information to a companion app on your phone, via Bluetooth. The app lets you set alerts to remind you to stand, and the desk will even raise itself at the appointed time, suddenly cranking itself into standing mode right in the middle of a conference call, say, or as you’re finally sitting down to lunch. It can also track the time you spend sitting or standing, and unlocks achievement badges when you reach certain goals.
But it doesn’t end there. It can tweet your progress, and you can compete with other Gaze owners on who stands up the most. But the very best part comes when you turn control of your desk’s height over to the internet. When it becomes available (the Gaze is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter), it will hook up to If This Then That (IFTTT), a service that does things like connect Instagram to your lightbulbs, or tweet your weight in the morning.
With Gaze, one IFTTT option is to have your IoT coffee machine make you a cup when you arrive at work. Another one is having your air purifier switch on after you’ve been sitting for two hours, which probably tells you more about the hygienic habits of the Gaze’s makers than you want to know. But the final suggestion is the most terrifying, worthy of the movie Office Space. It’s a recipe to connect your desk to your Google calendar, so multiple Gaze desks can adjust to the same height and crate a “larger meeting desk space.”
Thank god nobody ever cancels or reschedules a meeting without reflecting those changes in the shared calendar. Or, you know, pranks their coworkers by creating phantom meetings at awkward times.
Standing desks are indeed excellent, but this might be taking things a little too far, complexity-wise. You can get the same healthy effects with a $25 cardboard add-on for your existing desk, or you could ditch the whole standing desk idea, on the grounds that standing all day just makes you go home and slob around on the couch anyway.
Then again, maybe the killer app of the Gaze is that you yourself can control it from afar. Imagine taking an unreported vacation, and having IFTTT move your desk up and down, switch the coffee maker on and off, and even dicker with the lighting in your office. Your boss, who probably uses IFTTT to monitor employ “engagement” by tracking their standing desk activity (along with their scheduled meetings and coffee consumption), would believe that you were working every time they checked in from the golf course. It’s a win-win for everyone. Perhaps this is what futurologists had in mind when they said that computers will take over everybody’s jobs.
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