Collaboration tools of the future

Ampersand is a suite of products devoted to empowering collaboration in the workspace. By encouraging participation and communication, Ampersand brings workers together, wherever they may be. Ampersand recognizes that success in business is a product of teamwork between yourself and others. After all, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Ampersand was completed by 10 Western Washington University seniors, mentored by Anvil Studios.

8 weeks, Winter 2021

Group project
*Critique from Anvil Studios

Personal roles
"Virtual tools" / interface
Environment / ecosystem design

Shared roles
Sketching / Ideation

Workplaces are changing

What's working:

Needs improvement:

Worker autonomy

Not all tasks need to be completed from a corporate office. Inspires trust, confidence, and satisfaction.

Collaborative strain

Collaboration is not linear, needing lots of communication. Even small check-ins drain energy.

Higher productivity

Studies show that hybrid working situations yield higher productivity. Feeling comfortable and empowered.

Evidence of contribution

Being in office requires some transparency of work being done, something we don't get at home.

Work from anywhere

Hybrid workplaces allow people to accommodate their lifestyle.

Technology restrictions

Some workers do not have access to the same tools they have in office. Having to take longer completing tasks, if at all.

More time for home

Less commute time translates to time on other priorities and other people. Personal relationships are necessary for wellbeing.

Feedback delay

Feedback is delayed through time zones, and the barrier of technology.

Four opportunities for improvement:






Aesthetic benchmarking

Characteristics were selected that embody the desired feeling for the Ampersand line of products. These characteristics were chosen both for their ability to contribute to ease of use and indication, and bring an inviting sense of softness while maintaining a futuristic style. The Ampersand line features all of the elements identified in the process of establishing the mood. The guiding qualities led to a unified group of products, which encourage productivity, engagement, and positivity.

Frosted transparency

Soft surfaces

Metallic accents

Indicative texture

Setting the mood

Transparent material is used as a way to invite users to engage with products and features

Pillowed surfaces invite touch, while being friendly. It is less intrusive.

Used to indicate quality. A long-lasting, durable, well-made device.

Acts as a touch-point to engage users with features of the product.

Matching the mood

Work with satellite offices

A window into another working studio. Ampersand creates a seamless workspace through a 'transparent' screen. Built off of the Virtual work hub, allowing groups to easily share notes, sketches, and models.

Collaborate anywhere

Connected seamlessly by the virtual hub, workers from home can feel they have a sense of presence through sketching, modeling, and talking via the communication lamp shade.

Transformable workspace

Using the portable projectors, workers can create a space of collaboration. Satellite and home workers can contribute to the virtual board and changes are displayed real-time.

Creation tools

Haptic tiles create a strong sense of connectedness while working away from the office. Feeling is believing, and with the Ampersand haptic tiles, workers can contribute to the feeling.

Connecting coworkers

This application designed for clarity, productivity, and connectivity. With future workers collaborating more from home or satellite offices, the need for communication rises. It utilizes simple forms to illustrate collaboration in real time.

Quickly access what someone is doing

Status indicators encourage communication between coworkers. Symbols and visual cues let your coworkers know if you are available to collaborate, hard at work, or have stepped away for a moment.

Click to interact and see file history

With this app, employees can be confident that even if they are working from home, their contributions are still apparent. Employees and coworkers can easily see recent file history and edits by selecting a worker's icon.

A hub for all things work

This app has all of your most important information at your fingertips. Quickly access your files, view your schedule, and stay on top of your correspondence. Ampersand encourages productivity and communication through simple interaction and beautiful interface. No more switch between a half dozen apps to manage your work info, it's all here.

Meetings and whiteboard collaboration combined

Video or voice call while using the collaborative whiteboard. All participants cans see changes and ideas coming together in real time, while giving feedback and adding input. Access the whiteboard later to review the progress made in the meeting.

Comprehensive view

By utilizing multiple cameras, everyone in the conference room is represented to those working remotely. Those in the conference room have the freedom to move about without concern of staying in view of the webcam. The eye-level camera placement simulates eye contact for a more natural interaction. The camera is retracted when not in use to preserve privacy and comfort.

Adaptive display

Workers will often be collaborating with teammates, contractors, or clients in other locations. Conference calls within the Ampersand suite are elevated with the communication lamp. By incorporating a transparent screen around the projector, everyone in the conference room is able to see remote participants clearly. The screen features a conference mode for displaying the "speaker view" during video calls, as well as a diffuse screensaver.

Smart surfaces on demand

Transform any desk or conference table into a virtual whiteboard with ease. The collaborative projectors work together to facilitate teamworking and participation. By connecting and empowering workers, the projector helps your team reach solutions faster, together.

Prepared for participation

Projectors are functional in unison and individually, allowing users to adjust to their needs and work surface. Bring a projector to meetings or collaboration sessions for quick and easy teamworking. The lightweight device is compact and ready to travel to your next meeting.

Interactive stylus

Navigate the projected workspace with the Ampersand Pen. Quickly jot down notes or drawings into the whiteboard document, alongside your teammates. The whiteboard and projectors support the use of multiple pens, meaning everyone is involved in the collaboration.

Home base

The projectors and pens rest on an induction charging dock when not in use. The devices store neatly while charging rapidly, ready to be utilized at a moment’s notice. The induction charging base can also be used to charge personal devices during collaboration sessions.

The feeling of sound

Workplaces have continuously been evolving towards higher tech solutions. As technology becomes more prevalent in our day-to-day lives, it is clear that certain senses are engaged more often than others. The amount of visual and auditory stimulus produced by popular tech products leaves many users striving for other interactions. Touch is one of our most informative and innate sensations, so shouldn’t we engage it?

Ultrasonic haptic feedback

Ultrasonic feedback is achieved by using an array of ultrasonic transducers, which produce acoustic radiative forces. These acoustic forces are beyond the range of human hearing, but they are strong enough to produce complex touch sensations. Ultrasonic haptics reduce the need for more invasive or restrictive haptic actuators such as gloves and exoskeletons, allowing any user to interact with them easily.

Customizable configurations

The tiles themselves are configurable, meaning workers may use 1, 2, or 10 tiles to fit their needs. Modular in both direction and dimension, the haptic tile can meet the demands of practically any model. Simply pair side by side, or fit the connection points together to transform into a 3-dimensional format.

Intuitive interface

The tile features an OLED screen covered with a lightweight, transparent fabric cover. The display includes a simple user interface for easily adjusting settings and switching modes. A wire-frame orthographic view may also be presented on each tile to communicate the forms of the model to the naked eye.

Bringing people together,

no matter how close or far.