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human communication

Setting Communications Back 2-Million Years is the Right Thing to Do

Charles Rinker
2020-10-23 18:30:00

Caveman CommunicationsMost researchers believe human language was first spoken 2 million years ago. Before that, humans communicated their intentions and emotions using just facial expressions and gestures! Talk about your time-tested solution!? So, if spoken language and gesturing are so ingrained in the human experience, why do we spend billions of dollars and countless person-years retraining our brains to conform to digital user interfaces? Isn’t all this new technology suppose to improve our lives and increase our productivity!? I think most of us already know the answer to that question.

Until just recently, technology could not faithfully recreate human communications.

The truth is that despite what artificial intelligence and digital-human developers claim, nobody has matched the fluency and subtlety of a real human-to-human conversation. Those that claim to have gotten close have only focused on the wrong aspects and often made the apparent shortcomings of current tech worse. They have concentrated on photo-realistic humans, perfect lighting, physically accurate bodies, flawless skin texture, precise eye movements, and facial forms. It goes on and on! Walt Disney (and now PRSONAS <wink>) knew something that these “deep fake” digital human creators still don’t: What engages you and makes you learn, laugh & cry are the gestures, movements, color, and performances of the character, not the replica of the real-world counterpart. Think about it. How disturbingly freakish would it be to have a 5-foot tall anatomically accurate rat, i.e., an oversized New York City sewer mutant, saying “Hiya’ Pal! I’m Mickey Mouse!” while staring down at your little one on Mainstreet USA? I shudder at the image!

Ok - - let’s step back for a second. I am an admitted tech geek, having spent much of my childhood and career pressing buttons, typing on keyboards, sliding so-called “mice” around, and more recently tapping on glass screens to make technology do what I want. So why does all that talk from above really matter? Simple.

Public use technologies are NOT the same as personal technologies. (Period)

With our iPhones and Androids, with just a little time, we find it trivial to “swipe left/swipe right” on your favorite dating app or to do the “finger-click” to see the next life-hack for separating an egg white from the yoke. You may even love the “fast-scroll” technique to catch-up on the twelve-thousand Twitter news updates in 15-minutes or less over a quick cup of coffee.

However, on public use kiosks and self-service devices; what we don’t love is:

  • Adding to my anxiety as I scan a vast paper map trying to locate where I need to be in 5 short minutes to receive my cancer test results
  • Waiting for 5, 10, and sometimes 20 seconds or more for our digital signage messages to wrap back around to the one piece of information I need
  • Having to dig through layers of menus or dozens of screens of small text to locate the gate when my flight already started boarding 5 minutes ago
  • Not noticing the one self-service station that could actually help me because it looks just like an advertisement for a $15 airport burger and $8 beer!

The bottom line is this. When our minds or occupied, our time is short, and our stress level is high, we, as humans, fall back to the communications we’ve instinctively used for millions of years and often disregard what may seem obvious. In short, we think less and react more. It’s time we taught our technologies to communicate as we do and stop forcing the user experiences of personal digital devices onto our public use technologies.

Let’s build self-service solutions that we react to and engage with intuitively.

Until then, those living in the real world will suffer the slow adoption and continue to suffer the stresses induced by today’s standards in public use self-service offerings.

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