This is the second part in a four-part series on the future of technology in the office, envisioning how office life may be transformed by 2020 based on current trends. In our first post, we talked about what ways the office in general might change in the next few years. Now, let’s dig a little deeper into some of the ways emerging technologies may transform our work places by 2020.

Increase in Machine Learning and AI Applications

Up to now, we’ve generally viewed technology as something that helps us do our jobs more efficiently. As artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies continue to evolve, we can expect this perspective to shift more toward technology doing more of our work for us. By this we mean computers will extend beyond quick calculations into learned behaviors and better predictions, effectively helping us strategize, not just calculate. We’ve previously discussed the increased use of chatbots in customer relations, but Masvoz believes chatbots may soon extend into the HR world, as well. Imagine a workplace where computers comb through data to predict which geographic markets will most need your product in the next quarter and begin arranging shipments; where computers recommend staffing decisions based on employee traits; where even our devices can detect part failures and order replacement parts. These are just a few of the ways that the so-called “internet of thinking” may change the way our offices work over the next few years.

Enhanced Voice and Facial Recognition

The iPhone X recently turned a few heads with its ability to “recognize” its owner and unlock automatically. With increasing concerns about the ability of cybercriminals to get around passwords, there’s an increasing push to eliminate the need for passwords altogether. Thus, we can expect facial and voice recognition technology to continue expanding. Don’t be surprised in a few years if your computer wakes up when you walk into the room—or indeed, if your office door unlocks when the sensors “see” you coming.

Gesture Control Technology

Trackpads? Touchscreens? That oversized computer mouse on your desk? All of them may very well go the way of the dinosaur in a few years as gesture control becomes more mainstream. We already see this emerging technology in gaming devices like the Wii, but gesture control can already be used for a wide range of applications, and it’s ever more likely to become commonplace in our offices in the next few years.

So what happens when all this new technology starts transforming our offices? Our older devices frequently become obsolete, increasing the need for e-waste solutions. As offices become more high-tech, they will need to consider strategies for processing e-waste sustainably.