Corrections or additions?
This article by Richard K. Rein was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
July 22, 1998. All rights reserved.
Wizard in a Wall
All across budget-minded corporate America cheerful,
helpful receptionists have been replaced by shrill buzzers, keyless
entry systems, and wall phones with stern instructions. Glenn Paul,
the computer retailer (Clancy-Paul) and software developer
and Win Straube, founder of the technology-minded Straube Center
complex in Pennington, think they have a way to bring back some of
the receptionist’s traditional helpfulness — at a fraction of
The idea: an electronic concierge consisting of a wall-mounted,
personal computer that is accessed from a flat panel touch screen
and an accompanying software package that provides tenant information
in an office building and links visitors to pre-selected Internet
sites to provide additional information.
"The electronic concierge allows a visitor to a building to find
directions to a company’s offices, watch a brief audio-visual
about that company, or dial the company’s phone," says Paul.
Office Concierge also includes a proprietary Internet browser that
lets visitors peruse a tenant’s web site without using the machine
for extensive Internet access to other sites. A camera also allows
tenants to `see’ their visitors over the Internet before admitting
the visitor to their premises."
The best thing, says Paul, is that the electronic concierge provides
a valuable service at a fraction of the receptionist’s cost.
report that the most hated job in the U.S. economy (and one of the
most difficult jobs to fill) is the position of receptionist,"
Paul says. Building owners can solve the problem of providing
about their tenants by leasing the concierge system — hardware
and software — for just $160 per month. Or it can be purchased
outright for around $5,000 — about two months worth of salary
and benefits for the average receptionist.
The electronic concierge provides consistent, accurate information
about tenants’ companies. For building owners, the concierge lowers
operating costs, and can even act as rental agent by providing
about space available in the building.
Touch screen computers have been around for years, Paul notes, but
their bulky shape has largely consigned them to uses in kiosks and
other elaborate settings. Now flat screen technology permits their
installation in what Paul is marketing as the "Vertical PC,"
which "can provide a streamlined and secure alternative to
refrigerator-sized kiosks," he says. It can be mounted onto a
wall or even recessed in a wall: Its 14-inch width mounts neatly
two average wall studs.
As tenants change in a building, the building manager
can change the names and web addresses associated with each space,
which are then reflected in the directory and maps of the building.
Alternatively, building owners can contract with a dealer or with
Electronic Business Universe, Paul’s and Straube’s company, to
their electronic concierge.
The Vertical PC is totally configurable for custom applications. It
comes complete with Pentium I or II Processors, stereo speakers,
access, and the usual complements of RAM, hard drive, serial ports,
and up to three expansion slots. The Vertical PC can be equipped with
12, 14, or 17-inch color screens.
The final product, says Paul, is about a month away. But visitors
to the U.S. 1 Computer Showcase on Thursday, July 23, can get a sneak
preview and chat with its developers, Paul and Straube. For more
information on Electronic Business Universe call QwikQuote at
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