Tech and the future of human interactions

As a myriad of articles appear on our feeds to tell us all about the forecasts for new trends and technologies in the digital space, there is one aspect that has particularly gained my attention: the rise of ‘voice’. Looking at how the way we interact with digital devices is changing, how we are now able to talk to Alexa in our house as if it was a friend, or to ask our mobile phone to take a picture for us instead of clicking a button, I wonder what will come next in the way humans communicate.
In the last few years, serious concerns have been raised about humans spending more and more time on their devices, becoming addicted to them, stopping the interaction with each other in ‘real life’ to stare at their mobile screen instead.

The classic complaint about mums at the playground who are looking at their screen instead of their children who are screaming for attention (although I’m pretty certain that when I was a child my mum was staring at the newspaper, is there really that much of a difference??), couples at a restaurant facing their mobiles instead of each other, people taking pictures of their food instead of eating it… the examples are countless.

Then there are the dangers associated with the distractions mobile devices can create, like driving and texting (I can tell you that my kids were very closed to being run over by a car on a zebra crossing because the driver was on his phone), the seemingly incapability of young generations to stop looking at their device in class and during their free time, to the point that France has introduced a law to ban mobiles at school all together, and not to mention the damage to our health, both physical due to incorrect head and spine position, and mental ones like addiction.

But maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel: the increased use of voice applications.

I wonder if we are in a circle and we are finally turning towards a more traditional form of communication. The latest research in marketing suggests that consumers will increase their purchases using voice platforms, i.e. talking to the device to buy what they want… doesn’t it sound suspiciously similar to when we talk to the sales assistant in a shop?

Over recent years, people have moved away from calling friends in favour of texting them. As voice recognition devices improve, we might find ourselves chatting with our friends hands free, through a sort of verbal messaging.

Both examples are actually quite a stretch from the way Gen X and the generations before them learned to communicate, but maybe they are a positive evolution from what Millennials have been exposed to so far (read digital communication). I remember in the early ’00, researchers were suggesting that our thumbs were changing to adapt to fast texting. Then smartphones arrived, mobiles got bigger, intuitive text came along, and thumbs did not evolve.

In the same way, maybe thanks to ‘voice’ our head will move up again, and maybe, only maybe, in the process of telling our Bixby (or Alexa, or Google Assistant…) what to do, we will meet the eyes of other humans.

But then what happens when VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality), other latest trends, come into the picture? Having experimented VR with different groups of people, from marketers to children, my feeling is that while they could pose a threat to this social interaction rediscovery, they won’t really take the world by storm until they will be able to actually allow interactions between users. A single person in a physical group having an amazing VR experience while the others stare at you (and giggle) can’t be the way forward. But a Virtual Reality universe where all members of the group interact and ‘live’ the same reality, again could be a new way of ‘real’ human interaction. I can only imagine University lectures where everybody is immersed into a VR world, learning ‘first hand’ how to stitch a wound or the effects of chemical reactions, just to mention a few examples.

Technology is changing fast, being afraid of it is useless, but learning about it and make the most out of it, that’s the future.

Personally, I can only feel excited waiting to see what will come next!

Giulia Iannucci is a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant with 14 years of experience gained across the EU, Australia, Asia and the UK. Founder of her own business, KnowThyBrand, Giulia helps her clients position their brand as the cornerstone of their company, and guide them in creating professional and compelling digital marketing campaigns.

Follow: @Giulia_KTB

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