Last year, ErgoExpo moved from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to the Paris Hotel across the street. It also moved from November to August. This year, the August scheduling meant outside temperatures reaching 43°C and nowhere to escape from the perpetual ‘daylight’ and air-conditioned cocoon of the Paris Hotel and its conference facilities. Of course, the hotels in Las Vegas never want us to see the outside world but, for me, there is always a constant, overwhelming desire to get outside at any opportunity.
This was my eleventh visit to ErgoExpo in fifteen years. It is probably easier to review it in two parts: the exhibition and the conference.
Once again, the exhibition was dominated by sit-stand desks of various types and brands, including many more adaptors than last year. Chinese companies were there in force and, of course, several products with US brand names were of Far-Eastern origin. Most of these products were variations on a theme and there was nothing new to the European market. Interestingly, Varidesk elected not to exhibit although this is probably a simple reflection of their direct selling business model. Legacy sit-stand manufacturers, SIS Ergo, were also absent.
Equally, there was not much new product in the office accessories segment. Many of our existing partners (Bakker Elkhuizen, Contour, DXT, Ergotron, Score) were showing proven products that we already sell in Europe. Most newsworthy was the new mouse from Logitech. The significance of this is not so much the product design but the presence of a major IT channel player in the ergo segment. At a glance, the new MX Vertical mouse looks similar to many other power-grip mouse products although the electronics offers some clever features such as file transfer between computers and connection to multiple devices. At the time of writing, this is currently going through our WoW Factor process.
For me, the conference was one of contrasts. The keynote presentations were fascinating and often inspiring. Of particular note were Robert C. Allen of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, who outlined how his organisation addresses the diverse needs of disabled visitors and the ‘performers’ who dress up as the various Disney characters, and Jessica Cooper of the International WELL Building Institute, who closed the conference with a thought-provoking insight into designing buildings specifically to enhance the health and wellbeing of their occupants.
Of the other presentations, perhaps I am too old and experienced, but I learned little and found much of the content and thinking quite simplistic and, in some cases, quite dated by European standards. Notable exceptions were Gene Kay of VelocityEHS, who gave a very comprehensive overview of complex assessment issues and Edie Adams, Principal Ergonomist at Microsoft, who, perhaps unsurprisingly, gave some significant insights into the future of mobile knowledge working.
In summary, it was a great opportunity to catch up with many international friends but I wonder if every two years would be sufficient to keep in touch. Maybe it is about time I made another visit to NeoCon!