Throughout history, humans have invented different ways to communicate that have constantly evolved over time. The most common form of communication was transmitted via what we now term “snail mail”. Writing letters was once the most efficient and accurate method of getting a message across for both work and leisure. For example, carrier pigeons were used by the military during World War I and II to transport important notes that eventually helped to save lives and win battles.

Technology has revolutionized the ways we communicate with one another. Although mail still exists as a form of communication and serves a crucial role in today’s society, the main methods in which we use to interact with each other have drastically changed with time.

Telephones

First invented in 1849, the telephone was the first communication device that allowed us to send voice signals over wire. Over the next 60 odd years, telephones were widely used in homes and offices in the US, with 5.8 million telephone users registered by 1910. Making calls became the most effective method of communication, and relaying messages no longer took days or weeks as you could connect with friends and businesses simply by dialling a number.

The first telephone models, however, were bulky and could not be transported. The subsequent invention of the mobile phone in 1873 once again changed the landscape of communication. Having a mobile phone meant that you did not have to schedule a call or rush home to wait for a call — you could be contacted anytime, anywhere. This definitely made things more convenient, but the first mobile phone was still a rather bulky device that weighed almost 5 pounds.

Smartphones nowadays weigh less than 0.5 pounds, and can do much more than making and receiving calls since the creation of the internet. We can now make video calls, send an instant text, surf the internet, catch up on TV series, check out social media, or send emails using only our smartphones! Communicating and connecting with people are at the touch of our fingertips.

Emails

Emails, also known as electronic mail, were first used by academics and the military to send instant messages to one another within their organization’s internal network. Emails as we now know them were invented by Ray Tomlinson, who conceived the idea of sending instant messages to people outside of an internal network. It was not possible, prior to Tomlinson’s invention, to send an email to a specific person at a specific address. As the use of computers became more widespread, companies and individuals alike quickly adopted emails as a form of communication, and is now an invaluable communication tool in today’s world.

The rise of workplace instant messaging tools has reduced some need for email usage. Emails, however, remain as one of our main communication tools, especially for relaying messages to people outside of our network or in a more official capacity. This has in turn led to the development of an entire ecosystem around communication network technology. Nowadays, SD-WAN technology allows enterprises to use software to define and manage their networks creating an additional layer of reliability and flexibility.

But email is not all about communication. Email addresses are utilized as an identifier. For example, whenever you create an online account for a streaming service, you typically enter your email address as an identifier. You can only access the content that you paid for when you login to your account. If you are unable to remember your password to your account, you would have to request for a password reset typically via your email address. Emails are no longer only used as a form of communication, but as an identifier in much of our online activities.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality gaming has been garnering interest in recent years. The idea of it is exciting: Strap on a pair of virtual reality goggles and gaming accessories, and you are instantly immersed in a virtual world in which you can interact with your gaming partners, see each other’s movements and hear one another’s voices with almost zero distractions from the outside world. Virtual reality is currently being used for military and medical training, and therapy, but its application does not end there.

Virtual reality can also help us facilitate better communication with one another without having to be in the same physical location. Most of our non-verbal communication is lost when we interact via text, phone or email. Hesitations, gestures, and body posture are some examples of what we do not see when we interact with communication tools. These non-verbal communication can be transcribed in virtual reality, which can in turn help us better understand one’s intentions and emotions in a discussion. Instead of catching up with friends over a video call, there is a possibility that we would be able to “meet” in the same virtual space and conduct a conversation face-to-face without being present in the same physical location. The world of virtual reality is full of potential to improve our standard of communication!

Technology has revolutionized the way we connect with the world. Our communication tools have evolved to make communication more efficient, convenient, and realistic, and it is thrilling to think about how technology will further shape the future of communication.