We listen to our clients, and we use that feedback to design our software to help automate and optimize client workflows. We want our users hands-free and able to do as much as possible without the use of a keyboard and mouse. One of the most important considerations for both the speech recognition software and the hardware (microphone, foot pedal, etc.) is the environment in which it's being used. The gross room has several distinct features that make it unique and deserving of special consideration, and user feedback here is vital for us to continue to innovate here.
Let's discuss hardware.
Foot pedals allow users to control the microphone and can be used to navigate templates or perform preset functions such as print or undo. One consideration in the gross room environment is all the fluids present. It's important that the foot pedal be durable and also waterproof. We didn’t find these anywhere on the market in an acceptable configuration, so we custom-manufactured our own.
Headsets are another challenge. In the Gross Room environment, we heavily favor and recommend the Sennheiser Wireless as the best option. It connects to a belt pack that communicates wirelessly with the computer. This means users are not tethered to their machine by a cable that will be dragged through all sorts of potential contaminants.
This headset is also very cleanable. The framework of the headset is plastic, can be bent to adjust to various head shapes, and can be fully cleaned by any normal disinfectant. The microphone is guarded by a piece of black foam, which serves both as a windscreen to cancel extraneous noise and to keep the microphone head itself clean. This foam piece should be replaced periodically as it wears, so that you keep the microphone itself protected, and you keep your audio quality at acceptable levels.
Another aspect to this sanitary concern is a more personal one. Some users are uncomfortable sharing a headset with others, and in some cases, due to substantially different head sizes, it’s downright impractical to share headsets. We find what works most effectively is for each grossing user to be issued a headset, viewed as a piece of equipment similar to laptops and microscopes. This allows for each person to keep their own headset with them, make sure it’s in good working order, and to prevent the spread of germs between people. Having individual headsets also eliminates the wear and tear that can occur on common equipment, when everyone shares it but no one feels personal ownership for it. The owner of each headset would be responsible for keeping in a safe location and taking it with them when they shift from site to site. Many sites use plastic bags with users names on them, since your users need to be aware of potential contaminants from the gross room as they rotate to different locations.
Finally, there is the concern of ergonomics. While not directly sanitary, improper ergonomics leads to stress levels that often exacerbate other comfort issues. This can be helped by clearing free space on the work surface by mounting the keyboard, mouse, and extra monitors onto arms. There are some great swivel arms on the market. Moving computer towers to side brackets out of the way also helps clear space. There are also excellent all-in-one touch-screen computers available for the gross room that can really save on space.
If your gross room isn’t running the way you’d like, whether it’s hardware, software, or ergonomics, please reach out to us. We’d love to assess it and offer recommendations that can help.