Paradox of Human Touch that the 'Untact' era demands
It has been more than a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. COVID-19 has swept across the world and led homes, schools, work, society, and the nations into the 'new normal' era. Schools and industrial sites have promptly adopted the digital 'untact' systems to reduce human contact. Through this pandemic, we have also had an opportunity to test nationwide infrastructure such as non-face-to-face education and work systems.
According to Microsoft’s remote working trend report, the use of Teams, a video conference system, increased by 1,000% in the month of March 2020, and ZOOM, which previously had only 10 million users, soared to an average of more than 200 million users per day. As such, the most noticeably changed trend due to COVID-19 is the use of non-face-to-face technology. Ironically, however, in the present situation that seems to be never ending, the role of supplementing human contact is being emphasized, rather than the disconnection between people or alternative technologies. The need for human touch, paradoxically, is growing.
Human Touch refers to delivering human emotions and intimacy through technology. It may be convenient and effective to work and teach in an 'untact' manner, but it is true that realism such as helpful feedback or field experience is lacking. Human Touch supplements this, and various technologies are grafted. It is used in various ways, particularly in employee training, which it is essential to continue with despite the COVID situation. Let’s check out several examples of Human Touch, which is increasing educational effects with experiences that adds emotion and reality to the advantage of non-contact.
Strengthening ties between employees by utilizing Metaverse
Recently, more and more companies are using the Metaverse platform Gather Town for new employee training and major lectures. It provides opportunities for new employees to experience things more realistically in the virtual space by establishing the company’s main building, training center, and work sites in the metaverse space. In addition, it operates programs that add fun to learning such as Finding the Core Value mission, Generational Empathy Quiz Zone, etc., and makes the most of the unique advantages of virtual space.
This is not all. It further strengthens Human Touch by creating a conversation zone with seniors in the latest technology space. Through Q & A sessions with seniors in the untact space, the employees are able to share their stories about the work life and the direction after joining the company. The key to new employee training is to form affection and a sense of unity in the company, as it is not enough to fulfill this through online education alone. Therefore, conversations with seniors to build trust, instead of a systematic training from the company, are very significant.
The difference from regular online meetings conducted through chatting is that the new employees and seniors are made into characterized avatars, and they can meet and sit together to talk in the virtual space. Another difference is that the meeting is not conducted as lectures by a few selected seniors to all new employees, but as a group meeting with seniors from the departments that they want to work for.
In some companies, the CEO personally participates in the Q & A session. As the avatars, created with each person’s own personalities, talk to and look at each other, they can feel more familiar to the other, whether it is a senior or the CEO. In this way, Human Touch through metaverse, instead of one-way training, satisfies the Millennials who are comfortable with online communication with a more intimate emotion than meeting in person.
Maximizing the educational effect by using VR to increase the sense of reality
There is also a Human Touch case that maximized the educational effect by reflecting the sense of reality. Foreign language is the field where office workers as well as other people study the most and steadily. However, it is very difficult to see the effect without the person’s strong will. Even when a language course is completed, it is difficult to use the language as practiced when you actually go to that country or meet a foreign person. The same problem occurred even in the 'untact' education, where flexible time selection and repeated lessons were possible.
There are people who thought this was a problem of unrealistic education method and applied realistic Human Touch with new technology. It is the Edutech company Marvrus. This startup company established in 2015 is providing realistic learning opportunities to foreign language education through Speakit VR that it developed.
With Speakit VR, the user can instantly go to a city in another country such as New York, London, Sydney, etc., and experience hotel reservations, ordering food at a restaurant, or shopping. The places that appear were actually taken overseas, and the situation seems as if you are actually facing a real person. In particular, it has a business version specialized for interviews and jobs in English, which makes it possible to practice dealing with various business situations, such as finding errors in presentations or contracts, dealing with angry buyers, or reporting to bosses.
Speakit uses realistic contents created based on 360˚ virtual reality actual image, 3D, and synthetic images, so that wearing the VR HMD will give you five-times more immersiveness and three-times more learning effect. In addition, it is a responsive structure rather than one-way learning, and it focuses on voice and action instead of text. It has proven to have a memory effect of more than 90% after 30 days with reactions and scenarios that vary depending on the user’s reaction. It opens up greater possibilities by proving that Human Touch using VR technology, which maximizes learning effects beyond fun education, can overcome the limits of non-face-to-face education.
Charge your emotions using video and audio analysis
Video and audio analysis technology is also enabling Human Touch in 'untact' education. Due to the nature of education, it is usually one-sided, whether face-to-face or not. In non-face-to-face education, especially, the learners tend to be more easily distracted, decreasing the immersiveness. Although they can see each other with the speakers on in real-time classes, it is difficult for the lecturers to properly see the reactions of the learners only with images and sounds through small screens and machines.
Now, however, by using the technique to analyze video and audio, the status of the learner is conveyed to the lecturer, and the learners can be presented with the right learning direction for their current status. The cameras and microphones analyze the learner’s facial expressions, blinks, eyelines, and voices to inform the lecturer of their concentration level, and for the learners, AI tutors send messages of encouragement, etc. to support the learners so they can keep up with the lectures.
Human Touch technology through video and audio analysis is filling the gap of 'untact' education where there was a sense of distance despite seeing, listening to, and talking to each other. When this technology becomes more sophisticated and advanced, 'untact' education may become a warmer and wiser way of education in the future rather than face-to-face education.