Google announced a new innovation for its Gmail service – Gmail Motion to enable the inclusion of body language in email messages:
“The mouse and keyboard were invented before the Internet even existed. Since then, countless technological advancements have allowed for much more efficient human computer interaction. Why then do we continue to use outdated technology? Introducing Gmail Motion — now you can control Gmail with your body.“
1. Communicating naturally with each other is a big part of what we want computers to do for us as human beings. I agree that fingers on the keyboard is such a narrowband way of interacting, and applaud Google for helping us take this next step.
2. Gym owners are not going to be pleased with this innovation. As a result of spending the day acting out our email messages, we will be so exhausted by 5pm that then pumping the iron at the gym for an hour before heading home will be the last thing on our minds. If you are thinking about taking out a gym membership, stop now.
3. I believe this will greatly help the level of informality in our organizational cultures, and lead to the greater use of more casual clothing at the office. I know I would find a suit jacket really constraining once Gmail Motion picks up, and would expect to see greater permission given for wearing loose fitting shirts to the office.
4. I’m unsure how this innovation will be transferred to use on the plane. In the office, it’s a definite advantage. On the plane, where you’re strapped in to your seat, it’s going to be much more difficult to use body language effectively. I’d like to see Google introduce a range of Gmail Motion Cards, so instead of doing the body movement directly while in space-constrained environments, the user can just hold up the corresponding picture card and the correct interpretation will be made.
5. This new way of doing email is going to help us get to know our office colleagues better. Email via a keyboard is such a personal activity – we can’t really see what people are trying to say or how well they are communicating their thoughts – that a range of Gmail Motion Experts will be needed in most organizations. These Experts will need to walk around the floors, and when they see the message someone is trying to convey, and the Expert thinks they have a better way of communicating it, they’ll have permission to go over and model a more appropriate way of saying what the person really feels. More than anything, this will help with reducing organizational silos, building trust, and establishing new working dynamics.
6. One of the problems I see with this is that it doesn’t do anything about the low levels of noise in the office. With everyone using body language to communicate, noise levels will go down even further, and that’s good. I would like to see Google do more to address this. Perhaps a range of “Yee-hahs” or the like would help with addressing the remaining 20% of interaction dynamics.
7. Finally, make sure you check the date that Google announced this.