Immersive Social Interactivity: The Tools You Can Use Today
As a school-aged kid, our household had a landline. I still recall what a big deal it was when my older sister had her own installed in her bedroom because this is just what you had to do in the 90s. Annoyed with having to share, those pesky busy signals and her impatience all drove her to make this big decision. After all, if she wanted her own landline, she’d have to pay for it using the money she earned from her part-time job. Now, a lot has changed since this was the norm, but what remains is the desire and need to interact when and where we want.
Today, technology sees us ridding our homes of landlines and opting for mobile phones, tablets, computer apps and the newest gear. Our desire to interact, socialize, share, and connect remains high, which has lead to a greater demand on technology to enable and curate more meaningful social engagements that result in profound social interactions.
Immersive Social Interactivity
Whether we are aware of it or not, each day we all partake in Immersive Social Interactivity (ISI). It’s nearly impossible these days not to, but what is it? To better understand the how and the why, we’ll look at its tools and their uses shortly, but first, let’s define this new term.
ISI is the degree to which we connect, with either technology or others, when we wish to achieve or complete a desired action, event or activity, digitally. These are deeper engagements because they involve at least one ISI tool that provides some type of immersion level.
The Tools of ISI
When we enter ISI, we are using a specific set of tools. Sitting on a scale of immersion, interactions progressively shift from occurring solely with technology to involving other people. It’s this that increases the tools’ ISI along with a broadening of their uses.
These tools include:
Voice Search & Assistance
This is a speech-driven recognition technology. It allows us to seek what we need without having to type or be distracted—typically, accessed via a mobile or home speaker device.
Chatbot & Voice Chatbot
These bots are typically an application employed by websites, companies, etc. They provide a substitute when you cannot reach a live person by offering automated conversations via a messaging platform using natural language and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Of all the tech, Social Audio is a relatively new sub-category of social media that emerged as a trend during the pandemic and continues to grow. It is a voice-based social media that avoids the downside of video.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR is an immersive mixed reality experience. It allows users to superimpose virtual elements or objects into a real-world environment. It does not replace reality only enhances it.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Applications and devices provide an experience of the natural world in a completely immersive simulated space. Requires hardware, such as goggles, gloves etc.
A highly immersive and collective virtual space where people gather to socialize, play, and work in an enhanced physical and digital reality. It has been coined as the next chapter of the internet; Web 3.0.
By way of their uses, ISI tools provide the means to enhance all aspects of our lives to varying degrees, yet as some are still in their infancy, how they can be fully utilized to help us manage, enrich, and experience all aspects of life may still be unclear. Understanding why we use these tools further helps us identify our needs and motives that drive us to their uses.
Categories of Social Interactivity
Let’s look at why we use ISI tools. Our daily lives do not exist in a singular silo. Instead, we all wear different ‘hats.’ By looking into this further, I find four distinctive categories that we may flow in and out of over a day:
Individual: Here we take on the responsibilities of the day-to-day. This includes our housing, savings, donations, lifestyle/beliefs etc. It’s about stability in our lives.
Education: Whether High School, University/College, or on the job, education keeps us evolving and acquiring new skills. We are constantly learning new things, processes, etc.
Professional: From self-employed to big corporations, business and industry, and skilled professionals, it’s all about how we earn a living.
Recreational: It’s about fun and leisure, amusement, and hobbies; from social activities and fine dining to entertainment and travel.
And where these categories meet, I also find four sub-categories emerge:
Personal Development: Where the individual and education meet, we find Personal Development occurs. Here we see ‘edutainment’ with lectures and talks, theatres, museums etc.
Career Development: Many of us may occupy a permanent position or have reached a certain level of expertise yet furthering our skills via additional training courses or acquiring certifications occurs when education meets our profession.
Professional Pursuits: All about hobbies and past times that lead to side hustles and sidelines. Here, recreational interests take on professional opportunities as we seek new ways to turn our passions into lucrative potentialities. Think of the gig economy (influencers or professional gamers).
Personal Occupations: This is all about personal needs from our beauty and wellness, shopping and gifting, to our kids, pets and what we eat, drink and how we live. Here we see our individual meet our recreational selves.
In all of these categories, to varying degrees, we use technology every day.
Uses of ISI Technology
Whether from the perspective of an individual or professional, or for educational versus recreational purposes, there are six distinctive use cases for how we use ISI tools:
Connecting & Networking
Browsing & Shopping
Searching & Seeking
1) Voice Search & Assistance
Based solely on interacting with technology, these assistants have become integral to how we interact with our devices. It is forecasted that by 2024, digital voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion units worldwide.
2) Chatbot & Voice Chatbot
Easy to use and highly accurate, with conversational AI using natural language, bots deliver a seamless customer journey. They cut customer service costs by more than 30%, which is why unsurprisingly, the global market size will reach $1.25 billion by 2025.
3) Social Audio
Touting greater empathetic socialization and revered as a “goldilocks” solution to video burnout Social Audio is rising. Platforms have been increasingly carving out niche spaces. However, Clubhouse’s voice-only platform maintains the most active weekly users, with over 10 million.
4) Augmented Reality
Beyond amusement, AR’s applications in medicine, aeronautics, design, and development are impressively attractive, while it offers consumers enhanced experiences. Already a healthy market, it is forecasted to jump to over 26 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.
5) Virtual Reality
VR is high in ISI and offers many ways to play, learn and engage. This ISI tool is highly popular and has seen steady growth since 2020. By 2024, the VR market is expected to reach 12.19 billion US dollars.
As the most immersive ISI tool, this digital landscape of the future attracts users with full 360-degree immersive experiences for all things social, work-related, and fun. The metaverse market is projected to grow from $478.7 billion in 2020 to $783.3 billion in 2024.
The Shift to ISI is Here to Stay
Seemingly, our way of interacting has changed significantly over the last many decades, from sisters squabbling over landlines to mobile phones that never seem to leave our hands. It’s nearly impossible to live without some type of technology now. Our shift to adopting these six technological tools is no longer the day’s trend but in all facets, our way of life, and has landed me on defining this as ‘Immersive Social Interactivity’. Whether replacing the last carton of milk via a home device, using hands-free voice calling, or joining a virtual reunion/interview, these tools help us live with greater ease, safety, and convenience.
Ultimately, ISI tools have become a mainstay of technology and part of how we live, work and play. As we continue down this techno-rabbit hole, one thing is certain, it’s never been easier to connect and interact with friends and family, or colleagues and businesses, and the potential for even greater immersion is most definitely on the digital horizon.