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Germans Increase Office Efficiency With "Cloud Ceiling"

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the little-fluffy-clouds dept.

Businesses 223

Griller_GT writes "According to the top researchers of the Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organization (IAO) in Stuttgart, the human mind is set up to work at its best under the open sky, with changing illumination caused by clouds passing overhead. The unvarying glare of office lighting is sub-optimal, therefore, and in order to wring the last ounce of efficiency from German workers whose productivity has already been pushed to unprecedented heights they have decided to rectify this with a LED cloud ceiling."

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223 comments

First! (-1, Offtopic)

rsmith84 (2540216) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597548)

First!

Re:First! (-1, Offtopic)

ElmoGonzo (627753) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597616)

How original! Did you think that up all by yourself?

Re:First! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597960)

Oddly enough, he did. I saw him just sitting in the park on a partly cloudy day, reading slashdot on his laptop just as a passing cloud cast a shadow over him, I saw the proverbial light bulb go on over his head. The rest, as they say, is history.

Re:First! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38598914)

Perhaps if the lightbulb had been sky-colored, he would have made a more insightful comment.

I approve! (5, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597550)

A lot of what injures productivity is boredom. Having a non-constant light source could definitely keep things more interesting, even when you don't particularly notice it.

Keep workers happy == keep workers productive.

Re:I approve! (1)

ElmoGonzo (627753) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597586)

I want one.

Re:I approve! (5, Funny)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597682)

FTW,

when they see workers dozing off they should be able to initiate thunder and lightning. A bucket rain shower in an extreme case.

Re:I approve! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38599488)

Yes, but there are times when nothing will wake up the office like a shower complete with lightning bolts and thunder raining down cats and dogs!

Re:I approve! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597788)

Keep workers happy == keep workers productive.

you do know that could evaluate to false as well right?

Re:I approve! (3, Insightful)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598372)

Keep workers happy == keep workers productive.

you do know that could evaluate to false as well right?

If they were American companies, they'd improve worker productivity every year for 30 years, pocket the money, reduce salaries in $$$ (while the government devalues the $$$$ themselves), and accuse the workers of being ingrates engaging in class warfare.


Oh, and I would think techies would be upset and disturbed by the unfamiliar environment provided by this big blue room simulator. Does it go black at night?

Re:I approve! (2)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598840)

So what you're saying is that the real reason my office building's super won't fix the wild swings from hot to cold throughout the day is that it actually improves productivity (not counting the time I spend complaining about the temperature)?

Re:I approve! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38599584)

We already have this in Michigan, it's called DTE power line sag.

jr

Awesome (1)

doomaproching (2520372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597572)

Not sure artificial light can every replicate sunlight, open sky and clouds, but kudos for trying.

Re:Awesome (4, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598596)

It's not about replicating sunlight. It's about making someone a metric fucktonne of money making LED simulated skies in ceiling panels.

According to the article, each tile is 288 LEDs. Excuse me while I do some math, so this will make sense in US dollars, and the size of a ceiling tile.

A standard office ceiling tile is 2'x4' (0.6mx1.2m).
The article shows a price of 1000 euros per square meter. (1 sq/m = 10.764 sq/ft).
92.90 euros per sq/ft, or $118.88 USD per sq/ft.
8 sq/ft per panel. or $951.04 per panel.

The density of the LEDs is pretty sparse. 36 LEDs per square foot, or 0.25 per square inch. So one LED per 4 square inches. That would explain why the room looks so dark, compared to the overcast day outside the window.

A modest size office space at 500 sq/ft room would cost roughly $60,000 to put this ceiling into. That's a lot of money to waste on ceiling tiles. It would have probably done very well during the dotcom bubble. Now, that's a lot of other equipment, or salaries for a few employees for a year.

They don't go into the cost of installation, nor MTBF of the equipment. If panels need to be changed yearly for whatever reason, that would get pretty damned expensive. The LEDs should live a long time, but who knows how long their control circuitry will survive.

Re:Awesome (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598974)

You could just buy TVs cheaper than that. Hook them up to a computer to control the displays, and you have the exact same thing, without any specialized hardware. Power usage would probably be quite a bit higher, but as price of TVs come down, the price of replacing the panels would get quite a bit cheaper. Mind you, at only $60,000, that's less than the cost of hiring one worker. If you get a measurable productvity increase out this, it might actually be cheaper to do this than to hire 1 new person.

Re:Awesome (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599480)

You could just buy TVs cheaper than that. Hook them up to a computer to control the displays, and you have the exact same thing, without any specialized hardware. Power usage would probably be quite a bit higher, but as price of TVs come down, the price of replacing the panels would get quite a bit cheaper. Mind you, at only $60,000, that's less than the cost of hiring one worker. If you get a measurable productvity increase out this, it might actually be cheaper to do this than to hire 1 new person.

Monitors sound like a good idea for a cheaper solution than these expensive panels, but If you want clouds to flow from monitor to monitor, you'll need a large "Video Wall" controller so you can paint a coherent sky picture with clouds that flow from monitor to monitor. And large controllers are not cheap (and probably don't scale well to cover an entire office ceiling).

You're probably going to be better off with a small computer driving each monitor that talks to its neighbor to carry the clouds over and doing some random transforms on the clouds so they change shape as they flow across the ceiling.

Sounds like a fun grad student project.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38599580)

Or dimmable florescent ballasts for your existing banks of fluorescent lights and some control circuitry. Much cheaper and uses existing expertise.

I dunno. (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597604)

I may be at my best, coding in a Zeppelin, cruising silently above it all.

I'd certainly like to try it.

Re:I dunno. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597796)

I may be at my best, coding in a Zeppelin, cruising silently above it all.

So a LED Zeppelin then?

unprecedented heights of productivity (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597608)

Can we PLEASE stop with this hyperbolic "productivity" nonsense? If people were SO productive, what are they producing? Why does it take 25 years to pay a house that can be built in 6 weeks? Why are we still working 40 hour weeks? The average work week went from 100 to 50 hours in the 19th century, with 19th century technology!

What are we producing, why, and for who?

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1, Flamebait)

dapyx (665882) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597712)

You are not pay only the actual cost of building the house, you must pay for the 200-feet yacht that the one-percenters get, too.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598888)

The 1% is anyone who makes more the $37,000 a year. Which is 10% of Americans.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599342)

When Americans are talking about the 1-percenters, they're talking about the top earners within the American economy. It sounds like you're talking about the world economy. It's a worthwhile discussion, but it's not what the GP was referring to.

Further, even if the GP wasn't an American, it is likely that "one-percenters" refers to the top one percent in his or her own nation's economy. I don't think anyone making $38k per year in San Francisco considers themselves significantly more well off than a Bolivian making 1/4 that amount.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599016)

THIS

This is where all the productivity improvements have gone, why we're not working 2-3 days a week or any of that other utopian stuff futurists thought was coming. There have been productivity improvements, HUGE ones, it's just that it's all collecting at the top where we don't see any of it.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599154)

Oh, you're paying the actual cost of building the house, but you're also paying for the oversupply of money available to anyone with a pulse. Houses and higher education are both ridiculously expensive compared to before the Depression, thanks to cheap loans.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (5, Informative)

egomaniac (105476) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597966)

It's not fair to say that the house is built in six weeks. Yes, a house can be assembled from finished materials in six weeks, but you're not counting the effort to cut down the trees, transport them to a lumber mill, turn them into boards, mine the gypsum, turn it into drywall, mine the iron, convert the iron into steel wire, turn the steel wire into nails, refine oil into the raw plastic for pipes, mold the plastic into pipes and pipe fittings, transport all of these products all of the way from the factory to the building site, and on and on and on.

You can only build a house in six weeks because an army of people is busily creating all of these finished materials for you, and if you add up all of the labor, it probably does come to somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty man-years of work to create a house.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598084)

Twenty man-years? No. If that was the case, the average person would have to spend 100% of their wages for 20 years in order to pay for the average house, before considering profit.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38598516)

You're right. Make it about ten years (or 50% of their wages for 20).

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

danhaas (891773) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598454)

When you're talking about a 25 years payment, don't forget the interest rates. I would say one third to half of the total money goes to interest rates.

The math isn't like this, you pay interest as you go, but considering the bulk values, I believe a house costs about 3 man-years to build, but you will pay that with 25% of what you earn for 12 years, and then another 12 years to pay interests.

If you think that's excessive, try paying rent until you can buy your house upfront.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598882)

When you're talking about a 25 years payment, don't forget the interest rates.

... and they said the loanshark industry was dead. Not dead, just legalized, industrialized, and protected by the government. I would take the threat of lawsuits, ruined credit (therefore blocked from other credit accounts for years), and repossession of your house at any point, including at 24.9 years, as the same illegal "blackmail and extortion" that "criminals" used in the past.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599270)

Uh... make your mortgage payments, and they can't touch it. Is this too complex? Should they be expected to be a charity, and let you stop making payments indefinitely? By the way, it used to be that a bank could call in a loan-- that is, ask for the remaining balance to be paid immediately-- at just about any time. Just about every loan was a demand note. Now THAT'S "loan sharking".

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599074)

Also, don't forget that the cost of a house has way more to do with the location than with the actual cost of building it. The same style house, depending on location can cost anywhere from $50,000 all the way up to $500,000 depending on where it is located.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599028)

Until very recently (1980, perhaps?) people regularly only took out a 15 year mortgage on homes - you only bought what you could realistically afford. The concept of being in debt for a full third of your adult life (or more!) to pay off your home is a fairly recent phenomenon, and with 30 year mortgages, that number jumps to 50% in most cases. You're in even worse shape if you buy your home after you turn 20.
 
For most of humanity's existence, homes were built by the community using locally sourced materials, and no long term debt was accrued. I'm here in Texas, and I'm pretty confident that there are no gypsum mines (drywall) within a 50 mile radius of this house. If you visit impoverished areas of the world, people live in watertight houses, generally cinderblock, but they're built one room at a time, as finances permit the purchase of additional materials. In other areas, it may be an adobe hut, slowly expanded, and then finally surrounded by a mud wall forming a courtyard. Unfortunately due to building codes (among other things) this isn't permitted except in the most rural of areas (areas settled along the Texas-Mexico border by immigrants being one exception) of the United States.
 
The problem is that a house should only take a week or two to build at most, with additions coming later as the family expands, and instead people are mortgaging their entire lives to live in a building that might have been envied by the british aristocracy 200-300 years ago, and then continue to live in giant McMansions long after their family grows up and moves out. Unfortunately we came up with the idea that everyone needs to own and live in a giant generational-sized house, but only have 1.9 children instead of a house within their means.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597976)

THIS. Very much this. Although in all honesty, I could build a house (that I would want to live in) all by myself in about two to three years, not six weeks.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597978)

If people were SO productive, what are they producing?

Everything.

Why does it take 25 years to pay a house that can be built in 6 weeks?

  1. You pay less than a single worker's wage per month.
  2. More than one worker worked on your house at a time.
  3. You're also paying for materials that were produced over time you're not counting in that 6-week figure.

Why are we still working 40 hour weeks? The average work week went from 100 to 50 hours in the 19th century, with 19th century technology!

Actually, we're working 45-hour weeks--the 40-hour work week went out when they stopped paying us for lunch and changed the start time from 9:00 to 8:00. It will get better when resources aren't scarce anymore.

What are we producing, why, and for who?

Are you on acid?

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

emilper (826945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597992)

Why does it take 25 years to pay a house that can be built in 6 weeks? zoning => limited offer

Why are we still working 40 hour weeks? Because we consume a lot more than people that worked 100 hour weeks 200 years ago.

What are we producing, why, and for who? We're producing mainly to allow other products to be produced: 200 years ago the production chain had 3-4 links at most, now it's a lot longer and most work goes in producing inputs for the production of other inputs for the production of other inputs etc. One farmer does indeed produce more than 100 farmers 200 years ago, but in his work he consumes inputs produced by 50 other people ... there was a productivity growth but you get the wrong impression if you look only at one worker.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598040)

Can we PLEASE stop with this hyperbolic "productivity" nonsense? If people were SO productive, what are they producing?

These are office workers. Their main product is memos and TPS reports, and judging by how the production of these increases hyperbolically every year, I must protest your use of the word "nonsense".

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598096)

You need to catch up on Holmes on Homes so you can see why those 6 week houses take 25 years to pay off.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

schlesinm (934723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598118)

The house took only 6 weeks to build because someone paid for the land and hired architects to design the house before they even started. Then they organized 30 different people (including many specialists) to work on it while making sure they are getting all needed permits, following local building ordinances and safety laws. Feel free to replace all that work by doing it yourself and see how many years it will take to finish the house.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598218)

"Why does it take 25 years to pay a house that can be built in 6 weeks?"

Because we've created a financial and political system dependent on infinite economic growth. Something has to keep going up in price... and people have to keep borrowing for it to function. Housing is pretty easy as you can just have zoning laws, boost immigration...
Funny enough, I was reading an article that in Toronto about an old man who was selling his home he bought in the early 1900s. It cost about 1x the annual income.

The 'housing market' is perhaps the greatest scam ever perpetuated on the people. We just outbid each other and take out larger and large loans so that bankers can get rich and government gets more money in property taxes... all the while... they can claim you're getting 'richer'. Make it easier to get a loan? That just makes it easier for everyone to get a loan and you're still in the same spot unable to afford it.

"Why are we still working 40 hour weeks? "
Primarily because people hate egalitarianism. People talk a lot about it. But they hate it. What does it mean to be 'middle class'. It means you're better than the 'lower class'. You the 'middle class' person gets to use the labor of the poor 'lower class' who works in the service industry. So we invent a lot of useless unproductive, yet time consuming jobs for people to do. Most of finance, legal... falls in this category. We also refuse to workshare as people need to feel 'privileged'. The public sector unions and 'educated' people will always say they're entitled to be paid more than other people. It doesn't matter if the other people are just as qualified... it just matter who 'gets in'. The rest must enter the service industry.

"What are we producing, why, and for who?"
We tend to produce most of what we need pretty well (Food, water, clothing...). However the powers that be in the banking system, progressive goals, entitled 'educated' people... require that money always end up in their hands which means we must always keep working harder.

It will probably take a complete economic collapse for us to actually reap the productivity benefits in terms of a higher quality of life. Bankers, investors, public sector workers, progressives... all feel too entitled to let it occur otherwise.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598714)

Funny enough, I was reading an article that in Toronto about an old man who was selling his home he bought in the early 1900s. It cost about 1x the annual income.

It still does if you design the floor plan yourself and build a small house and limit yourself to the basics (carpet, not hardwood, let your builder build your cabinets instead of hiring out to a cabinet maker, use imitation counters instead of granite, no texture on the walls, etc. You can build a very nice, large house for three or four years salary in most parts of the U.S., assuming you aren't building in a major city.

Alternatively, there are some fairly nice double-wide modular homes that will only cost you about $125,000 plus delivery. Admittedly, that's probably two or three years salary, on average, but it's also completely turnkey.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (0)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598864)

ah yeah... Toronto is a major city :P
The cost of home is not in the actual cost a home, but mainly in the location, interest rates, planning limits, various development fees...

My point was that the emphasis on the housing market and the corresponding things to make it easier to get a home haven't done anything to actually make homes more affordable or make people's lives better.

Quite frankly, any government programs to help home buyers should ideally only cover the actual physical cost of a home which if I take your numbers would be a bout 1-2x annual income.

Beyond that, it's just people outbidding each other and the public good is not served by make shelter so costly.

Again, housing is mainly so costly NOT due to the free market, but due to government programs and manipulation (low interest rates, mortgage guarantees, in the us tax deductible interest, restrictive urban planning...)

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38598288)

This is the crux of everything.
And yet the answer is obvious.
There is no other way of keeping you slave working for those 40 years.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598432)

Most houses take a bit more than 6 weeks to build, and you have to factor in that its not just a single person working for that long - its quite a few. If you're comparing to your single income then to get a comparable exchange you need to add them all up.

Now take into account that its a matter of finance and how much you actually want to put into the house at a time. If I count my total salary, I could afford to buy a house cash with 2 years salary.

Thing is, I can't afford to dedicate 100% of my income towards that purchase (though 100% of those workers income IS coming from the work done to generate it). If you aren't willing to accept the terms of financing then save longer and pay cash for the house, but you don't have any right to complain that people aren't financing your house for free.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598468)

A German house is typically not built in 6 weeks - make that 2 years or something. There is excavation, concrete and stones. No stick-frame buildings.

But if you want to build some modest wealth for yourself, consider building your own house. It's an option if you have some skills and are willing to learn and work hard until you are done with it. Particularly in Germany though: the ground you build on is a scarce resource, hence it's expensive. I don't think there is a way around that.

I agree on your general point regarding wealth distribution, though.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (0)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598602)

Why are we still working 40 hour weeks? The average work week went from 100 to 50 hours in the 19th century, with 19th century technology!

That one's easy: the shift from 100 hours to 50 hours per week was largely the result of mass protests and unionization, and then codified in labor laws. Occupy Wall St is peanuts compared to the kinds of mass protests that were going on in the late 19th century.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599094)

Right, because people can just get more for less by simply demanding that it be so. Nothing to do with accumulation of capital and increasing labor force specialization.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598640)

Productivity comes out of capital, which is what one needs to increase productivity. Capital is what allows purchasing/building more/better tools, which makes a process cheaper/faster/increases quality.

So 100 men with shovels cannot be as productive as a man with an excavator, that's what productivity really means - 1 person doing work of 100 people because of all of the capital that went into the newer/better tools.

Capital comes out of savings (as opposed to the wrong idea that it comes out of the printing presses or taxes).

Capital is the difference between the production and consumption (call it over-production or under-consumption), so if a fisher catches 100 fish a month and only eats 50 fish, he can sell 50 fish (exchange 50 fish for something else) and store the value of catching the 50 fish - these are legitimate savings.

The man eventually saves equivalent of 5000 fish and buys a bigger boat and hires some help and now he can catch 1000 fish a month instead of 100 fish, it's because he increased his productivity by using his savings capital to improve his tools and even hire some labor. Now in a shorter period of time he'll save more fish equivalent units (so whatever he catches, minus all the expenses including the labor costs and whatever taxes) and he can now buy another boat, more nets and more labor - now he is running a real business, maybe he doesn't need to fish himself anymore, but now he changed from being a fisherman to becoming a business owner who needs to manage the business.

In the process of becoming a larger business, he now has more instruments to bring more fish to the market, this creates more supply and prices fall (given constant value of money), which creates more savings, as people now have to pay less for the fish they buy, and this drives more capital, more investment, lower prices (again, given constant value of money).

Then gov't politicians see all this new investment and new innovation and they want a bigger piece of the pie, so they create some rules that prohibit anybody from fishing until they buy a fishing license, giving gov't power to establish a monopoly on fisheries.

The man with the fishing business buys the license and because he sees gov't with this power, he goes to a politician and offers a bribe to make licenses more expensive, raise the cost of regulations, increase barriers to entry to prevent competition.

This prevents others from entering the fishing business because now they have to overcome not just the costs of boats and nets, but also licenses and regulations and more taxes (which the man with the big business is not paying, because again - more bribes).

So now the price of fish in the market is no longer falling, because there is no competitive pressure for it to fall, even though there maybe more fish caught by the man's fishing business.

People who can't start their own fisheries become dependent on hand outs by the gov't, who now sees an opportunity to grow further, by using popular demand for a 'living wage' (because they see they can't grow as the man with the fishing business) and the populist movement creates opportunity to introduce more taxes upon the workers, and it's done under the guise that the man with the big fishery will be taxed more. However the man realizes what's going to happen and starts moving his fishery business to another country, where the fishing licenses are non-existent and neither are most of the various taxes (liability costs, regulations, departments, all that were created by the gov't growing out of bribes of similar businesses and eventually from counterfeit money).

The man with the fishing business is still selling the product on the US market, but he catches 90% of fish elsewhere (true numbers for USA today). The people in the country are poor, can't have their own fisheries due to lack of investment, because they have no jobs and due to high costs of entry into the business because of gov't.

The politicians in the meanwhile understand that there will be a problem with the unemployed electorate and they build a large police and military force to prevent real uprising, give people something 'to do' and build a way to feed the population by using the large military to take from others when all jobs are actually gone.

---

So that's how the economy stalls eventually and the real problem is that the power of government was there to do 3 things:

1. Take power away from individuals to do business as they see fit and regulate it and tax it.

2. Use populist movements to create a false idea that the real problem is the man with the fishery and not the politicians.

3. Counterfeit money to allow even bigger growth of government.

--
Eventually this system will collapse, it may even lead to a large scale war as the country will have nothing to eat unless it takes the resources away from somebody else and it uses the military force to do so but there is resistance.

The end result will inevitably be usage of the military/police force inside the country against its own population, because it won't be strong enough to fight all of the outside power that will develop as a response to this theft of resources. So there will be a dictatorial system in place to reduce the population into slaves, like they have in North Korea.

This will eventually be fixed by the population rising against the dictatorship and it will end up in a massive civil war.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598876)

Supply and Demand of property in area + 6 week * 25 people labor... (Roughly 3 years of man hours) + Materials. The fact that you want to pay it off with half your salary. Loan taking 5% APR... Little pieces add up. Can housing be cheaper sure. But it what people are willing to pay for it. You can get a livable house for about twice the price of a good car. However human pride wants it to be nice and look nice and be in a clean safe area.

We are working 40 hours a week is because we can. Too much more we suffer exhaustion. too much less we have unproductive hours, in which we could put into hours that we get paid to do. Otherwise someone else will come in and take those hours and they will get paid for it.

Re:unprecedented heights of productivity (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599032)

Your productivity is stolen by inflation. The computer revolution should have us all working 15 hour days for the amount of pay we currently receive (in terms of purchasing power). But the government has taken that purchasing power by spending freshly printed currency into the economy (ie taking goods out of the economy) via pay to government employees who don't make things that are for sale and direct use of goods (from bridges to nowhere to office supplies). The deflation boogyman that all the "mainstream" economists continuously crap their pants about is actually a symptom of PROGRESS when it occurs due to increased levels of efficiency.

Fooling the brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597658)

What's up with tricking the brain like this? Is it good or is it whack?

Re:Fooling the brain (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598244)

It's not good, Kriss Kross. I think it might even qualify as wiggity wiggity wiggity wack.

Thoughts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597678)

Thought 1: Why not just make the roof out of (polarized/tinted) glass?
Thought 2: I guess it would be distracting on the days they have to send somebody up on the roof to clean away the bird droppings.
Thought 3: How distracting would that ceiling be after somebody hacks it to play pong anyway...

Re:Thoughts... (1)

ravenscar (1662985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597822)

In response to thought 1 - most office buildings are more than a single story. What about all of the stories below the top?

Re:Thoughts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597922)

upskirt view might actually decrease productivity.

good point!

Re:Thoughts... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38598158)

whereas in scotland, you would be focused intensely on your work, never looking up from your desk.

Re:Thoughts... (1)

sglewis100 (916818) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597842)

Thought 1: Why not just make the roof out of (polarized/tinted) glass?

Ever enter a building with more than one floor?

Re:Thoughts... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598174)

Would also be distracting as it fell in on your workers. An unprotected ( ie, glass ) roof isn't real practical.

Consistent? (5, Insightful)

zandeez (1917156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597704)

Is this proven to be consistent and will it continue to have this effect on the workers? I'd like to reference the Hawthorne Effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect [wikipedia.org] which basically states that any change to the working environment will increase productivity temporarily. So how long until it gets old and productivity slumps again?

Re:Consistent? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598456)

You just change the content. A huge LED display on the ceiling can be used to view anything.

Re:Consistent? (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599164)

I couldn't help but imagine some raw, hardcore porn filling the whole ceiling. Now THAT would be a sight, even if productivity dropped to negative!

Re:Consistent? (1)

Redlemons (1313923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598560)

Without any hard numbers or methods, it's hard to make any kind of assessment of anything. From what you can glean from the article, it sounds like they did an internal study of the opinions of 10 staff members. Basically it's just a bit of PR, not science.

Re:Consistent? (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599024)

I have psychological research showing that lcd screens showing live feed images of waterfalls and other such fake things don't work. Source [washington.edu] .

Temporary Results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597716)

Trust me that the positive results they are experiencing is only temporary. New things have a tendency of improving productivity but then goes back to normal after a while.

CEO is a genius! (5, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597750)

His "researchers" also discovered that humans respond better when working at ambient temperatures and when exposed to the elements. They also like to be beaten with whips when they're insubordinate.

Improved efficiency has not been proven yet (3, Informative)

Hermanas (1665329) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597770)

... or even attempted to be proven, for that matter. From the article:

The Fraunhofer Institute's press statement doesn't give any actual concrete figures on improved worker productivity

According to the "study", if you can call it that with only ten volunteers, they merely chose that type of lighting with the other choices being "that, but less so", and "normal office lighting". No conclusive evidence of improved productivity (yet) as far as I can see, but it is pretty nifty - I'd like one of these installed in my office. Now if I could just convince my superiors of docking up that €1,000 per square meter...

CRI index? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597790)

If these are RGB diodes, they probably have a low Color Rendering Index [wikipedia.org] , because three colour peaks are far from a black body [wikipedia.org] spectrum.

My personal opinion is, that CRI is anyway not quite related to how pleasing a light is - a 90% CRI warm white luminescent light may render things unpleasantly hollow and yellow, while a low CRI warm white LED may make an impression of a brillantly sunny day, perhaps due to being a small area source, thus applying "sparks" to things.

Will this be used in Mercedes and BMW's ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597794)

"Designed and built by free range engineers"

Danger ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38597814)

Even more productive Germans? My God...

it's the Euros, stupid! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598716)

Even more productive Germans? My God...

Somebody has to carry the Greeks.
And Italians.
And Spanish.
And French.
And..

awwww, fuck it.

They shouldn't stop at clouds (2)

ks9208661 (1862000) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597824)

Would be great to have other things flying over the fake sky, like birds, planes, pterodactyls, Superman, and UFOs, to make things even more interesting.

Re:They shouldn't stop at clouds (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597988)

Don't worry, that's coming... when the "new" factor of the clouds wears off and productivity goes back to normal. Eventually, they'll just start showing random epilepsy inducing colors.

I live in the Seattle Area and I'm wondering... (5, Funny)

ravenscar (1662985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597900)

What are the blue LEDs for?

Re:I live in the Seattle Area and I'm wondering... (1)

Ksevio (865461) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598020)

They do make it pretty blue when there aren't "clouds" over. Which is a bit strange since when we don't have real clouds, it gets brighter out (well maybe not in Seattle), while the blue LEDs make it look darker.

German CEO covering his ass (3, Funny)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597982)

I think it's more likely that someone tried to explain "the cloud" to some CEO and he completely misunderstood then ordered a bunch of these cloud panels made. After he realized his mistake, he had some people make up these productivity claims so he can avoid the embarrassment of admitting his mistake while simultaneously looking like an innovator.

Where to buy?? (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597986)

I checked the Fraunhofer website [fraunhofer.de] but I don't see any links to vendors. I think this must still be in the research stage. Does anyone know of a similar product on the market? (Or how to build your own?)

Re:Where to buy?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38599574)

Building your own should be easy for the Slashdot hardware types. If you're not a hardware type (or there's some sort of patent on this thing), Fraunhofer has partnered with a company, LEiDs GmbH (http://www.leids.de/), for this.

A summary article can be found here: http://www.tikalon.com/blog/blog.php?article=2012/open_space

Time off a factor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38598080)

Just a question. Don't they get like 6 weeks off a year? What if they cut back on that. Since we all know the week before you leave (starting new projects) you don't really do anything and the week after you come back you really don't do anything, except try to get back in the swing of working. Also how long are the lunches, I remember reading somewhere that In France they take like 2 hours for lunch, don't know about Germany. And also with that how may people really work right up to the lunch bell and start right up after lunch. Of course I'm talking white collar people not the front line workers like checkout clerks.

just give me a damn office (3, Insightful)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598146)

For all that complexity, their office lacks an often-overlooked but very important productivity optimization: 4 walls, a ceiling, and a door for each employee (or at least those that need to concentrate from time to time).

Get one at the lumber yard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38598408)

How about a ceiling like the one over the dining hall at Hogwarts. The one that shows you what is going on in the sky overhead. I think they make them, they're called skylights aren't they.

Basement Upgrades (1)

Tihstae (86842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38598606)

Wow, I would really like this in the basement where they keep me. I have no windows and am so far underground, there is no cell signal from any provider yet, my car (parked in the parking lot) has a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.

Re:Basement Upgrades (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599292)

I've got an ocean view out this window to my right here, the beach is just across the street actually.

Think you'd like to trade jobs? >:)

I wonder (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38599114)

if you could get a similar result much cheaper by using projectors near the ceiling, since detail is not important.
Does look neat though, I'd like it. I'm building a room (studio) in my basement, I was actually considering - among other designs- of painting the ceiling like a blue sky with clouds. That'd be static though of course.

Geeks make toys useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38599344)

Modders can do special LED lamps now. It became a fun project and useful too. Before the study it would have been just a toy.

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