This week we opened our new warehouse in Canada and as part of the celebration, we reached out to tech expert Pascal Forget - who also happens to be Canadian and perhaps our greatest Québécois Autonomous advocate. He is all about integrating technology into different aspects of our lives, as a big fan of Google Home, Home One and of course Autonomous.
Pascal has the awesome job of travelling across the world to check out new gadgets and innovations. He is a tech reporter for Planète techno on ICI-Explora (a branch of CBC/Radio-Canada), regularly appears on Canadian TV and runs his own blog and website. Follow him on Twitter @PascalForget for the latest reviews.
Pascal got into tech reading the Radio Shack Catalogue, and a French magazine called Pif Gadget. He liked Pif gadget for the free science ‘gizmo’ that came with it - and which you got to assemble yourself.
Although he originally went into marketing, he was quickly picked up for his technical prowess and asked to coach his team on how to use the internet - including the basics like email. Soon after he was asked to appear on TV, and as he puts it, ‘When I got a call for an audition for a new TV show about cool new technologies (La revanche des nerdz, French for The Revenge of the Nerdz!), I was ready!
As an early adopter from the infancy of consumer tech, we thought he would be a good person to ask for some tips on the most exciting products on the market today. He tells us all about his personal staples, the game changers and the ones to watch.
What were the first tech you fell in love with?
My first quartz watch, with just an alarm, a chronometer and a timer was amazing. I still have my HP 41-CV calculator; I wanted to you use it to cheat on exams, but I had to understand the formulas to program them… so I ended up doing most calculations manually as it was faster.
The first iPod was a coup de coeur. It was super expensive, but I immediately saw the interest of having a thousand songs in my pocket.
What gadgets do you use everyday?
As a tech reviewer, I have to test and try new products all the time! On a daily basis, I can't live without headphones. I really enjoy the noise-cancelling QC35 by Bose.
I read a lot with the Kindle Oasis - really expensive, but so small, elegant and light! I train for a marathon with Oakley's Radar Pace - a personal trainer in my glasses. And I really enjoy the new iPad Pro 10,5. the small size difference with the 9,7 make the typing experience with the Smart Keyboard much more comfortable (and iOS 11 makes it closer than ever to a computer).
What are your favorite apps?
Secret, for secure messaging (more people should use it: if it's good enough for Snowden...)
Pocket, to manage the articles and posts I want to read later
Feedly, to manage the RSS Feeds
Pocket Casts (I listen to podcasts when I run!)
And Wordpress, to manage my site
I don't have Facebook installed, the app is bloated and distracting. I use the browser version when I want to post something.
I don't install time-wasting games (I have a credit-card sized Tetris game in my bag http://www.pascalforget.com/tetris/ ). One important rule: remove all the apps that I haven't used for more than a month. I can reinstall them when needed!
What are the best innovations you've seen this year?
Google Home just arrived in Canada, and the fact that the French-Canadian version works beautifully, is very exciting. Usually voice recognition software doesn’t account for the difference between French French and French Canada, making most voice activated products barely usable here.
Since last year I rarely use wired headphones anymore; the new Bluetooth headphones sound great and I don't have to worry about charging them all the time. (It reminds me of when I made the switch to WiFi internet to my main computer, after checking multiple times that the download speed was the same as the wired internet!)
And I really like the Saent - a physical button to start an interval of focused work. Is it essential? No. But it really helps to remind me to work!
What are the best examples of 'Internet of Things' that you have seen?
Google Home makes the experience of the ‘Internet of Things’ really magical (not just an expensive party trick). Now I can reliably turn on the lights and play music, just by talking naturally, without having to unlock my phone and opening an app! Finally.
How did you hear about the Autonomous SmartDesk Standing Desk?
I've been looking for a stand-up desk for a long time, but they were super expensive. While researching on a segment on ways to be more productive, I discovered the affordable SmartDesk, with all the great reviews, and thought it would be a great product for my audience... And for me!
What are your standing habits with the Autonomous SmartDesk Standing Desk?
I should stand more! But I have a high chair that I like, that allows me to rest my feet and stretch my legs. I like to stand when I have to do some quick note taking or light work.
Do you have any productivity tips?
Mindfulness is the current buzzword, but it really makes sense to get back to focused work: doing one thing, without distraction, for a certain time. Nobody does that anymore, but it's like a super power. And it's less stressful too: once you stop, you are done!
How has your Autonomous SmartDesk Standing Desk changed the way you work?
It really helps “moving the pain around” or “changer le mal de place”, as we say au Québec. I can start the day standing up then sit on a high or low chair or move the table higher or lower if I feel uncomfortable.
It allows me to concentrate longer without fatigue or tensions. I feel like working in cafés less - I programed the exact height of the table in my favorite café on my SmartDesk. (Yes, I brought a measuring tape to the café!)
What do you think offices will look like in the future?
These days, lots of work can now be done in cafés, airports and on the go (I carry a foldable keyboard that fits in my back pocket for impromptu writing with my phone!), but I think that people will always need a personal "productivity place" of their own, without distractions.
There is already a switch from "one size fits all" cubicles to offices with different open environments (closed quiet spaces, communal area, picnic tables, big comfy chairs) where employees can work according to their mood.
Maybe that will evolve to personal spaces that can quickly transform to be optimal for whatever you have to do - for reading, writing, video conferences and deep work. It could be done with and adaptative desk, chair and lighting to encourage optimal productivity, creativity and/or relaxation.
Are there any specific innovations you hope to see evolving in the future?
Electric cars, for environmental reasons.
I'm also really intrigued by the promise of smart wireless earbuds like the Here One that can shape your sound environment. They’re designed so that you wear them all day. They remove unwanted noise, allow you to listen to music, talk on the phone and give you almost ‘super’ hearing. All this whilst preventing hearing loss.
And the development of augmented reality; why look at a phone screen (or any screen!) when information can be projected into your field of vision?
We’ll be running features with our customers in the start-up, tech and design scenes every Wednesday! Subscribe to our blog to get them direct to your email!
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