It might not be long before traditional one-sided communication becomes a thing of the past. Interactivity through social media, smart phones and other visual aids increases awareness, productivity and collaboration. The effectiveness of interactive communication depends on several elements, including message, sender, receiver, medium and feedback.

Multimedia

In the digital age it's no longer necessary to be in the same geographical location to participate interactively and multimedia plays a big role in redefining communication. Multimedia includes audio, video, graphics, text, animation, or any combination of these. These applications may be used at work, school, or home and are accessible at the user's discretion. This makes multimedia a longer lasting alternative to traditional verbal interaction, in that the message has no finite beginning or end. Multimedia is more powerful than other types of nonverbal communication -- such as posters and books -- because it integrates components allowing the recipient to provide feedback.

Business and Education

Advertising is a common type of business communication -- whether it's influencing television viewers to buy product, soliciting magazine surveys or running promotional giveaways on containers. Smart phone applications and scanning devices now make it easier than ever for manufacturers to provide consumers with useful information. Wikis -- fact-based interactive Web communities -- are being used more in the classroom. This approach to education uses a collaboration to facilitate rich learning environments for students and educators alike.

The Social Web

Social web communication values creation and collaboration, while facilitating relationship and community building. The social web has implicit ties to education and business because it is more than just a medium -- it's a state of mind. So called crowdsourcing -- harvesting feedback from a large integrated user base -- originated on the social web and drives much of commerce today. The Web is also facilitating a new type of education-based interactivity, calling on a potentially limitless stable of contributors to create and maintain an immense body of information.

Interaction with Robots

People communicate to express their emotions, but we also communication out of need -- instruction being one of these. In the late 1980s, one Stanford University professor studied interactive communication with robots to explore the relationship between situational context, interpretation and general understanding. Verbal instruction achieved specific concrete actions, but expanding the robot's language based on changing scenarios was a challenge. Robots are much different today, in that they can share their operator's perception of the surrounding environment and act intuitively based on prior communication.