Ever since the first phone call by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, the concept of realistic live communication became too fascinating to ignore. Avoiding older systems that could impart delays of weeks or months, live connection technology would spark a revolution reaching into every facet of the human experience. From simple conversation to entertainment and relaying information about emergencies, this now global system continues to inspire a world of new possibilities.
As the benefits of instant access became clear, also evident was the fact that the desirability of live technology wasn’t always black and white. In some instances, human psychology would hold it back, in others, it would be the nature of communication that would act as an insurmountable hurdle to implementation. Rather than a linear progression of total acceptance, live systems have walked a complicated road, one with forks that humanity might never truly travel.
Building on the Telephone
The concept behind the telephone was simple – instantaneous direct communication between two areas above and beyond older systems like the telegraph. Cutting out the frustrations and delays of letters, and opening the doors to the illiterate, the success of early telephone systems was a guarantee.
As great as the phone could be for one-to-one communication, it raised the question of what could be done to reach a wider audience. The resulting experimentation by Nikolai Tesla and Guglielmo Marconi resulted in a broader system that transmitted not with wires, but with radio waves. This radio wave system would later serve as the basis for television transmission, and both would lean heavily into the advantages which live communication could offer.
Radio, while still successful, was eventually usurped by television in the popularity contest of mass consciousness. After all, it included video and not just sound, so it could offer a more immersive experience. To science-fiction writers and the general public, this meant that the traditional telephone would soon go out of date, to be replaced with the video phone. As we now know, that idea didn’t pan out. In some ways, it even went backward.
As necessary as it often is to talk to people, the process can also be exhausting. Depending on how introverted you are, too much direct conversation can even leave you irritable and frustrated. This reality affects people differently, and it’s a concept that different communication and entertainment systems leverage as they face the challenge down.
Addressing Interpersonal Stress and Burnout
At the simplest level of communication and entertainment, it’s text messaging that represents the most effective solution to communication burnout. Made famous by SMS, new online messaging systems like WhatsApp and Messenger have rapidly become the status quo, acting as the least-stressful manner of communication for most users. This applies in entertainment too, where text chat can be far more relaxing than microphone communication.
Above this level, communication challenges become much more difficult to address. Though talking over the phone can be seen as the most efficient option, it can also result in miscommunication due to misheard words, unfamiliar accents, or forgotten information. The only part of this which can easily be addressed is the talking over each other which is a natural result of group-type communications. Simply handing people the lead in programs like Skype works here, but this option usually isn't available in the entertainment space.
Undoubtedly the worse type of burnout occurs with video chat systems like Zoom. Whether you’re on a large mobile phone, a laptop screen, or a small device, the simple act of being observed can add pressure. Again, this is an area where there isn't a viable solution beyond the ridiculously hypothetical like using masks for cover.
Finding a real solution to the myriad communication challenges can be best achieved through a more individualistic approach. This is the approach adopted already in live entertainment opportunities like live casino games. Titles here like Live Lounge Blackjack, Mega Fire Blaze Roulette or even Live Spin a Win have only the host on video, while everyone else can talk over text systems. Work chat systems like Ring Central, can also adopt this model, where video chat might be utilized when necessary, and avoided for those uncomfortable with the process.
Potential for the Future
While audio, video, and text chat are already well-established, they're not the endgame for live communication technology. Within the next few years, virtual and augmented reality systems could raise the potential of live human interaction to new heights. Bolstered by cheapening technology and increasingly faster internet connections, the hardware which operates these systems is rapidly taking over.
Adopting headsets, VR could allow virtual conferences and hangouts where no person needs to be fully represented in an accurate form. Instead of reflecting your real face, this could allow virtual avatars, backed by voice modulators. These approaches could reduce stress for those who struggle with communication, and act as hilarious tools for those looking for something more relaxed and casual.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, could be used to project full people and environments within our homes. While a nightmare for the socially anxious, the usefulness of this technology in work and entertainment is unquestionable.
As for how and when any solutions to the challenges of live communication could be implemented, that’s up to the market to decide. Some of these problems might be insurmountable, while others could only see success with evolving tech or a change in overall work culture. It's a question for the future and one where new issues and solutions will continue to evolve.