There are good and bad sides to our reliance on technology. On the one hand, online connectivity has revolutionized our means of communication, and the future of entertainment has come along with it. On the other hand, social media has polarised many of its users, bringing discord to what is already a divisive global society.
Online live technology brings us closer to each other than ever before, without physical limitations or a need for social distance. For now, the good seems to outweigh the bad, but where will this tech take us in the future? It’s not a question of when but rather, to what extent will these technologies replace interpersonal activities? Aspects of live tech are already present in society. The most notable examples have been listed below.
Online games and the music industry have used technology to create digital concerts; live in-game events that millions of users can enjoy together. Perhaps the greatest example of this phenomenon has been Epic Games’ collaboration with high-profile music artists. In 2019 Marshmello (a popular EDM DJ) held a live concert in Fortnite, streamed live for more than 10 million fans. In 2020, one year after Marshmello’s success, rap artist Travis Scott performed to a crowd of over 12 million Fortnite players. Thanks to these partnerships, the most successful battle royale video game is still dominating the latest concurrent player rankings.
The question we should be asking is; how can we balance two very different forms of entertainment? For example, if you aren’t forced to stay at home, why not go see your favorite band live? You could also attend a digital concert, but there’s no reason only to have one but not the other. Due to the ever-advancing march of technology, we’ll likely see an increase in virtual music tours and live online concerts. However, it’s doubtful that digital events will outright replace live-in-person events.
Sports can’t survive for too long without the support of fans. The past couple of years have led to empty stadiums for top-flight sports, and vacant seats have shown us how important supporters are to any sport. Without a cheering crowd, the atmosphere of a big match just isn’t the same. Quite a few sports have embraced online games as a means of offsetting crowd deficits.
Formula One held its first-ever virtual Grand Prix in 2020, and this led to the F1 Esports Series, which is set to become a yearly fixture alongside regular F1. The 2020 Madrid Open was the first significant tennis competition to host its tournament in a VR environment. In April of 2021, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the Olympic Virtual Series, the first official Olympic virtual sports event. Online gaming has already overtaken brick and mortar arcades, and mobile games are currently the most significant entertainment market in the world.
An increase in digital security measures has made online shopping a regular habit. Not too long ago, the majority of internet users were skeptical about online purchases. Nowadays, there are many products & businesses you would struggle to find without the help of a Google search or an online storefront like Amazon.
As consumers, we get the best of both worlds. There are thousands of online storefronts for any number of goods & services. The more saturated these markets become, the greater the chance of finding competitive pricing. What’s more, you don’t have to order online if you don’t want to. Touchless services and zero-touch technology have allowed us to adapt old shopping habits for a new age of social interaction.
Switching from office work to remote work was a decision based on necessity. Even though restrictions have eased up worldwide, many companies have chosen to continue using remote work strategies. These strategies have provided several benefits for businesses, and some, including health & safety improvements, travel cost reduction, and general expense relief, such as rental fees or utility bills.
Being able to work from anywhere at any time is already a reality for many of us. The overnight success of Zoom feels so long ago, yet it’s taken a mere two years for the app to go from relatively unknown to worldwide recognition. Cloud computing combined with app suites like Google Docs has allowed us to engage in cooperative work, irrespective of geographic location.
Robot janitors? Check. AI household assistant? Check. These robots and more have already begun their march towards mass production. Hotels and shopping malls are using robotic cleaners. We’ve had ‘smart’ appliances for a while now. Some fridges can restock themselves automatically. The fact that we can say that about a fridge is remarkable on its own.
Amazon recently introduced Astro; a new home robot that looks as if it were ripped straight out of a Pixar film. Within Astro’s tiny form lies an incredibly advanced AI. This robot can do anything a smartphone can do and more, able to follow you around the house and leave your hands free of any mobile device. We’re officially at a technological stage where a robot can become a personal assistant, secretary, and entertainment platform, all in one cute package.
It’s evident we’ve been using live online tech as a replacement or substitute for quite a while now. Keeping that in mind, how will these developments evolve over time? No one can know for sure. All we know for now is that it doesn’t seem to be a case of one activity erasing the other.
When given a choice, it’s relatively safe to assume that most of us wouldn’t want to eliminate in-person activities. We’re social creatures by nature, and we need genuine, tangible relationships with others to thrive as a species. Will we take advantage of tech to enhance our lives? Or will these advances completely replace the life we once knew? It seems most likely that these changes will continue in their current form, as symbiotic-driven advances bridge the gap between necessity and tradition.