Are Your Enterprise-Level Devices Prepared for a Post-COVID Environment?
How new and existing features and functions support a safe return to offices
Last month, we marked the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve covered (in depth) whether office print volumes will ever be restored to pre-pandemic figures. Long story short, we expect more and more people to move to a hybrid type of relationship, spending some workdays in the office and some workdays at home. As the number of workers returning to office grow, we thought it important to review what features and functions one can expect to see in support of post-COVID protocols on multi-user, workgroup-level devices that are awaiting your return to the office. We reviewed five of the major OEMs—Canon, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, Sharp, Xerox—and found each of their product lines to offer a slew of features and functions in support of a safe return to the office.
Fewer Touches, Touchless Operations
We confirmed that at least four of the OEMs (Canon, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, Sharp) support resistive touch technology, using pressure to respond to commands. As a result, gloves can be worn while operating the operation panels. All five of the OEMs’ control panels also offer varying degrees of personal or shared customization to streamline workflows, resulting in fewer touches and faster programming. Presets allow complex commands to be selected in once click; home screens—and, in some cases, sub-screens—can be customized with only the features and functions most used; and features can be rearranged or reprioritized in several cases, as well. Canon’s unique timeline history lets users access their 10 most recent scan and copy jobs to perform again without having to reprogram the job in its entirety for fewer touches.
With the exception of Canon, these OEMs have a solutions-based marketplace selectable from the control panel; free and fee-based apps are readily available to be easily loaded onto the device directly from the control panel or the user’s PC to streamline workflows and limit the number of touches at the control panel. Konica Minolta’s, Ricoh’s, and Xerox’s apps offerings are especially robust. Xerox (for example) offers the Auto Copy app, which enables the user to automatically make copies by simply placing originals in the document handler—eliminating the need to touch the UI or any other part of the MFP. While Sharp’s Application Portal is still somewhat limited in the apps that are available, it is fairly intuitive and should serve customers well as additional apps are added.
All five OEMs offer mobile apps for controlling the control panel from iOS or Android devices and, in some cases, tablets as well. Canon’s mobile app can replicate the MFP control panel from a user’s iOS or Android platform in real time and for any device function. We also recently covered how Canon’s uniFLOW platform has been updated to address hybrid work environments. Ricoh recently upgraded their mobile app to provide no touch secure print release, allowing print jobs to be submitted from iOS or Android devices and securely released at the MFP without having to touch the shared control panel. Xerox’s Audio Documents mobile phone app allows for a document to be converted into an audio format to listen to it rather than read it. SharpDesk Mobile allows for an easy connection to mobile devices via QR code and NFC tag.
Find a Voice
Voice guidance and operation solutions continue to be an area of investment among these OEMs, as well. Ricoh and Sharp are utilizing Amazon Alexa for their respective voice control operations. The Ricoh IM Series of intelligent devices can take full advantage of the new platform and its features. For Ricoh, future innovation is anticipated for other workplace services offerings, including interactive flat panel displays (IFPDs) and projectors. Canon offers a Voice Guidance Kit and Voice Operation to hear voice navigation instructions and set various functions using voice, respectively. Xerox supports GABI Voice from PAB partner Vision-e, which provides a touchless way to access and control the device by speaking commands for everyday functions like copying, scanning, and toner status requests. Konica Minolta provides voice guidance (but not voice commands) to explain screens, keys, and key operations. This function also helps people who have difficulty viewing the screen carry out operations more smoothly via voice guidance.
Between customizable and touchless operations, apps and onboard tools, mobile support, and voice control and operations, rest assured that your friendly neighborhood enterprise-level devices are very prepared to support a safe, effective (not infective), and streamlined return to the office.
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