The founder of Zoom believes virtual meetings are here to stay — and will only become more human. Here’s what replacing in-person interactions might look like, according to experts.

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As you settle in for your next meeting, you reach out to shake the hand of the person sitting across from you. The room fills with the scent of freshly-brewed coffee, and when your colleague speaks in a different language, you find that you can understand them. 

But it’s not that you’ve been brushing up on your multilingualism during lockdown, and you’re certainly not congregating in a local café or even a conference room. This meeting is taking place in your own home, and the other attendees could be hundreds of miles away.

This vision of the future was one set out by Zoom founder Eric Yuan at a recent Web Summit conference late last year. In an interview with Insider’s co-editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell, Yuan outlined how he envisioned the video platform growing.

He suggested that calls could be enhanced by virtual reality and artificial intelligence, with tools in place to recreate the physical experience of meeting in person. Virtual smells, the sensation of a handshake, and AI translators were just a few of the ideas that Yuan hinted at as he predicted how the platform would stay relevant in a post-vaccine world. 

In a year defined by stay-at-home orders and a sudden shift to remote work, Zoom’s popularity rocketed, and after beginning the year with a market cap of $19 billion, it hit a market valuation of $138.9 billion in October 2020. Yet the company was also hit by privacy concerns, and an oversaturation of virtual quizzes, happy hours, and conferences led many to experience Zoom fatigue. Positive news of vaccine trials also caused so-called work-from-home stocks to plummet in late 2020, with Zoom falling by as much as 20% in November. 

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Yuan argues that video conferencing is here to stay, and that by innovating to make online meetings feel more like a face-to-face interaction the company could continue to grow. 

But is this immersive technology something that consumers really want?

Gregor Pryor, a leading tech lawyer and specialist in entertainment and digital media at global law firm Reed Smith, told Insider that immersive tech isn’t just a far-away image of the future — it’s something that we’re already seeing implemented across many platforms. Pryor advises companies on how to leverage their tech and was named one of Wired Magazine’s “Top 100 Influential People in Digital Media” after working with innovators on virtual and augmented reality and immersive experiences.

He cited Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR and its announcement of new social VR app Horizon early last year, along with developments at Apple, Nvida, and Microsoft, as several examples.

“Games like Fortnite give us a glimpse into the beginning of the metaverse, a shared virtual space where gamers are able to build cities, attend concerts, and meet friends,” he said. 

Some experts believe that innovations such as sensory technology, which pave the way for more human-like interaction online, is the next natural step in our digital lives.

“If we consider human sociality and the ways in …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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