In today‘s busy workspaces, there is a desire for modern technology to answer the call for challenges that seem to consistenly arise. Visionect is one such company that seeks to offer office solutions, delivering electronic paper display products to the market. Among them is JOAN, an easy-to-use meeting room assistant that helps to avoid scheduling confusion, double bookings, and interrupted meetings. In an exlusive interview with i+s, Jasna Klemenc, product manager for JOAN, discusses how the idea for the office tool came about, and what it can deliver to the market today and in the future.
When was JOAN developed?
Development began in November 2015 and JOAN officially launched in January 2016 at CES 2016, which is a global consumer electronics
and technology tradeshow. And in October 2016, we launched our JOAN Collection of three different room-booking devices: Joan Assistant, Joan Manager, and Joan Executive.
How did the name for the product come about?
We started thinking our device is like a real person—a helpful, organized, trustworthy assistant who makes sure everything runs smoothly. A colleague got the association from “Mad Men” and suggested naming the product JOAN after the character Joan Holloway. Since our office is filled with fans of the show, which was just ending in 2015 as we were starting development, people instantly loved it, and we had a name.
Who designed JOAN?
We, Visionect that is, are the makers and the designers at the same time. We wanted to cover all the bases ourselves.
What was the inspiration behind it?
Our own issues behind meeting rooms spawned the need for a room-booking system. Instead of buying one, we decided to build our own. That was a prototype of what was to become JOAN. We saw that we weren’t the only ones with this problem and went forward with developing a product.
What was the biggest hurdle in bringing JOAN to life?
Simplicity is tough. Keeping your product simple and easy to use is actually really difficult. We wanted to focus on key features, not just features for features’ sake.
How was the initial response?
Very positive. JOAN solves a problem for people, and our customers are really happy. They have enthusiastically shared their feedback with us, which means a lot. It allows us to improve our product, so even now we continue to seek it out on a regular basis.
What is the most impressive project JOAN has found its way into?
Our clients range from large corporations to small businesses. It never ceases to amaze us how JOAN has found its way to the NFL, Formula 1, research institutes working on a cure for cancer, environmental organizations, charities, major software companies, the automobile industry, and more.
What is your hope for JOAN?
Our hope is that JOAN will continue to travel the world and book meeting rooms, and become an enabler of agile work processes, a standard in efficient and sustainable office tech.
Are there any changes to JOAN on the horizon?
Definitely. We keep moving, so much so that we have two whole walls scribbled with ideas for future development. JOAN is getting a big sister and possibly some cousins.
What’s something people don’t know about JOAN?
That the technology behind JOAN is electronic paper. E-paper is becoming a standard in the field of digital signage due to its energy efficiency and zero light pollution. It looks like real paper, has no glare, emits no light, and has a 180-degree viewing angle. All of that made selecting this technology the perfect choice for JOAN, allowing a battery life of months since e-paper is 99-percent more energy efficient than LCD or LED technologies.
Photography courtesy of Visionect