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Besides amazingly fast development to test for and combat COVID, has anything good come out of the pandemic technology-wise?

It might be too early to tell as the pandemic is still raging as I write this, but I can think of two things—well, maybe one. My first thought was Zoom, the video conferencing application that allowed office workers around the world to check out each other’s houses under the guise of yet another online meeting. We’ve had videoconferencing for a while, though. The pandemic just forced us to get the right equipment, pay for a solid internet connection, and maybe learn how to behave in front of the camera.

A better candidate might be voice messaging. I wouldn’t say it’s wildly popular yet, but it is getting some attention. Unlike a simple phone call, voice messaging doesn’t require both parties to be available at the same time. Using the same programs we use to text others, we are able to leave voice messages—yes, our own voices—that can be listened to whenever we want.

With more than 3,500 emojis currently available to communicate our every thought, why would we need to use our voices? Think about it. Researchers tell us that the human voice can express 24 different emotions which, compared to emojis, doesn’t sound like much, but think about how you can, say, hear your son’s tiredness after he says just a few words, or feel the guilt in a call to your mother in even fewer words. (Kidding, of course. Sort of.) Humans are incredibly fast at decoding what is spoken to them—certainly faster than they are at interpreting the candy-colored cartoon faces marching across our screens.

Communicating in person is best, of course, but barring that option, try voice messaging. You might be surprised how efficient, convenient, and, dare I say, almost human it is.

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