Web meetings

Zoom, Echo Frames, Spatial, Magic Leap, Web Meetings and Synchronous Online Learning

This week I had one of those uncomfortable realizations that made me question my ability to make sense of the world. My last revelation that everyone already knows – and that I seem to be the last to catch – is that sometimes face-to-face chats are better than online meetings.

That’s right. I had an experience this week where an in-person meeting was superior to a Zoom discussion.

It turns out that some discussions are best held in a shared physical location. Zoom is still unable to capture the intricacies of body language or substitute for the interpersonal bond that comes with face-to-face encounters.

High fidelity collaboration, especially between humans who do not yet know each other, seems to require more bandwidth than even the clearest of video and audio streams.

Does that mean we’ll be doomed a lifetime of travel by plane, train, bus, or car to attend face-to-face meetings?

As an e-learning evangelist, how worried should I be about the seemingly insurmountable advantage that geographic coexistence seems to benefit over distance collaboration?

In the same week that I uncomfortably realized that some collaborations were poorly optimized for distance, Amazon decided to release the Echo frames.

This latest Amazon product is, objectively, horrible. The possible use cases for glasses that can play sound that other people might not be able to hear, while doing drastically less than any smartphone can accomplish, appear to be limited.

At first glance, the Echo Frame is as related to online collaboration – and by extension to online learning – as a walkie-talkie is to a supercomputer.

But wait. We know the story of the supercomputer walkie-talkie. The two converge in the smartphone.

The Echo frame sucks. But it’s made to shit. This is a first-generation pass to a future of cloud-enabled laptops. The next steps will be to combine the Echo Frame with the Magic jump augmented reality glasses. (On sale now for $ 2,295). Will anyone be surprised if Amazon buys Magic Leap?

The story becomes more intriguing as technologies such as augmented reality communication platforms from companies such as Space start to mature.

Zoom in 2025 will likely be an augmented reality communication experience. The combination of patient capital and long-term big tech investments (Amazon, Google, MS, Facebook) with the co-evolution of AR and laptops will inextricably change the way we communicate.

Fully immersive and augmented reality communications will be facilitated by inexpensive and lightweight hardware.

The 2019 Echo Frame is like the T-model of IoT-enabled wearable technology. By 2025, wearable AR collaboration technology will have evolved into something more akin to a contemporary Tesla.

Higher education cannot be a passive spectator as this next generation of technologies evolves. We need to find a way to actively shape the tools to meet our distance relational learning needs.

What do you think online meetings – and synchronous e-learning – will look like in 2025?


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