By GREGORY ZELLER //
And the Oscar goes to … you, small to medium-sized business owner, if Aenvision Inc. has its way.
Oscar, the world’s first “smart office space calculator,” is available now from Aenvision, a 2014 Huntington Station startup dedicated to helping businesses find the best physical space for their individual corporate needs, or make the best use of the space they have, or both.
Designed specifically for people who are not architects or interior designers or otherwise gifted with the left-brain rationality to grasp advanced spatial-relation concepts – or the right-brain creativity to make their space fly – Oscar is the latest addition to a suite of intelligent tools meant to help clients quantitatively produce (and sometimes reproduce) high-performance office space.
It sounds more complicated than it is: In layman’s terms, Oscar can help anyone maximize workspace productivity.
And by introducing such three-dimensional concepts to spatial neophytes, the space calculator serves also as a promotional advertisement of sorts – a dual-purpose gizmo that champions physical efficiency but is “more of a marketing tool,” according to Aenvision CEO Richard Boz, while marking “the beginnings of thought leadership.”
“It’s trying to introduce the concepts of spatial profiling,” Boz told Innovate LI. “That’s really Oscar’s purpose: to give users some idea of the type of office spaces that are common and to help them use that knowledge to come up with reasonably accurate guesses as to the space they’ll need, or the amount of staff they can fit into the space they have – and then, to add some flexibility to the equation.”
By “users,” the Aenvision founder and chief technologist – he programmed Oscar himself – means everyone. To date, however, the startup’s clients have largely been limited to architects and designers, precisely the kind of mathematical brains trained to understand geometric properties and topology and whatnot.
To a certain extent, that’s by design. Boz ultimately envisions Aenvision as a come-one, come-all hub for anyone – spatially oriented or not – looking to shape a more productive work environment. But to get the ball rolling, his firm is focusing first on the people most likely to catch on quick.
“This is a new concept we’re selling, so we’re trying to appeal to people who have the most knowledge about the subject,” the CEO noted. “That tends to be design professionals themselves, architects in particular.
“They sort of get it without too much explanation.”
The people who would benefit the most from Aenvision’s tools and services are “the business owners themselves,” according to Boz, though “it’s a little more complicated for them, sort of an esoteric subject.”
Enter Oscar, a free web app that efforts to make the esoteric easier through simple interfaces, bold graphics and rudimentary questions any non-architect can understand (how much square footage, specific office uses, number of desks, etc.).
In a way, the space calculator bridges the gap between the business owner – who knows precisely what she or he wants the office to do, and how – and the architect, who understands angles and other spatial concepts but isn’t always privy to the business owners’ ultimate intentions or desires.
“An architect knows how to substantiate your vision in a way that satisfies building codes and has an aesthetic appeal,” Boz noted. “But the most critical part of an office design comes from the business itself – and the people running the business are often the least capable of understanding all this.”
What it often comes down to, he added, is densification – that is, growing a small to medium-sized business (in its existing space or in a larger space) without losing its unique corporate identity.
“This helps you maintain your corporate culture,” Boz said. “Spatial profiling is all about densification without sacrificing a cultural profile.”
Also in Oscar’s sights are real estate brokers, who are not always “concerned with these kinds of details,” the CEO said, “but are concerned about their clients.”
“Brokers often need to make some quick guesses about how much space is required for a certain business,” he noted. “This eliminates some of the guesswork.”
As a business owners himself, Boz is counting on Oscar to propel Aenvision toward its own best spaces. Barely three years in, the CEO acknowledges that “we’re not making a living at this, necessarily, but we’re getting there.”
“Our customers see the value,” he said. “The architects see the value. And now, with Oscar, we’ll hopefully be getting the message out.”