I saw a recent post from Steve Blank titled ‘What’s Missing From Zoom Reminds Us of What It Means To Be Human‘. It caught my eye as I have been posting about my recent VC experiences, plus anything from Steve Blank is guaranteed to be insightful.
It is worth scanning the longer post but I agree with his observations. Without the missing non-verbal cues and context (e.g. physical environment), conducting business or friendships is less productive, social interactions are less satisfying, and distance learning is less effective.
In essence, today’s video conferencing applications feel like they are an engineers technical solution to the complexity of human interaction
As it is super interesting, below is a summary of Steve’s main insight:
There is an Opportunity for Innovators to Take Video Conferencing to the Next Level. This billion person science experiment replacing face-to face communication with digital has convinced me of a few things:
- The current generation of video conferencing applications ignore how humans communicate
- They don’t help us capture the non-verbal cues – touch, gestures, postures, glances, odours, etc.
- They haven’t done their homework in understanding how important each of these cues is and how they interact with each other. (What is the rank order of the importance of each cue?)
- Nor do they know which of these cues is important in different settings. For example, what are the right cues to signal empathy in social settings, sincerity, trustworthiness and rapport in business settings or attention and understanding in education?
- There’s a real opportunity for a next generation of video conference applications to fill these holes. These new products will begin to address issues such as: How do you shake hands? Exchange business cards? Pick up on the environment around the speaker? Notice the non-verbal cues?
- There are already startups offering emotion detection and analytics software that measure speech patterns and facial cues to infer feelings and attention levels. Currently none of these tools are integrated into broadly used video conferencing apps. And none of them are yet context sensitive to particular meeting types. Perhaps an augmented reality overlay with non verbal cues for business users might be a first step as powerful additions.