Here you will learn about the various Communication Applications of ICT.

  1. Describe Communication Applications
    • There are several communication applications that make use of ICT technology
    • Flyers, posters, brochures and newsletters
      • Flyers and posters are very easily created using some of the commonly available softwares like Word Processing and Desktop publishing. Flyers and posters often contain photos which may have been taken or downloaded from the internet.  The following outlines the steps that are generally followed to make a document on a computer:
        • open one of the softwares as mentioned above
        • create frames, boxes and/or text boxes
        • take photos, if necessary using a camera
        • upload the images from the camera/CD/DVD or downloaded photos fromm the internet
        • save the photos to a file
        • import or copy and paste the photos into the document
        • edit the photos and import from a file or type any required text
      • Brochures are generally used to advertise a company or its products.  While these can be prepared on a normal computer and printed on a laser printer, it is advisable to go to a specialist company who use specialised computer and print the outputs on glossy paper resulting in a better final product.
      • Brochures and flyers are generally sent out to households in a given area so that the target audience gets to know about the compay and/or products.  Another option generally used is to insert them inside magazines and newspapers.  However, the disadvantage of both these methods is that these documents might be thrown away unless they actually catch the eye to the readers and offer something interesting or tangible.
      • Single sheet of documents are called as flyers or leaflets and booklets or multiple sheets of documents are called are brochures.
      • Posters are usually much larger and displayed on buildings, noticeboards or advertising hoardings.
      • Newsletters are produced by companies or clubs using the methods mentioned above.  They generally contain local information which is read by company employees or club members.  The content is specific to the organisation and may contain:
        • advertisng by other companies
        • fundraising events or their successes by employees or club members
        • news events, like certain achievements by that organisation
        • marraiges, deaths and births of employees or their family members, club members
    • Websites
      • With the advent of the internet, companies tend to advertise in the virtual world rather than on paper through the development of their own website or advertise on another company’s website.
      • Using the first option would mean hiring web designers and developers or go to a company specialised in doing this kind of work.  Add to it there are costs involved for purchasing the hardware and software to develop the website, storage of the website, prevent the sight from being hacked by employing IT security experts.  However, the biggest advantage of a website is that the company gets world wide audience and there is no need to keep spending on paper, delivery of the leaflets and flyers, etc.
      • There are pros and cons to both these options and it is company which has to take a call what suits best for them
      • Advantages
        • Sound/video/animation can be added
        • can’t be defaced or discarded away
        • can be seen by a global audience
        • links to other websites/hyperlinks can be made
        • buttons to navigate or move around the website which provides more information
        • hit counters which provide how many people have visited the website with details of cities, countries from where the hits have come
        • use of hotspots
        • It is very easy to update a website and immediately it is visible to the global audience
      • Disadvantages
        • It becomes necessary for the customers to have a computer and internet connection.
        • There is a risk of the websites being hacked and modified or viruses and trojans introduced.
        • There is a possibility for customers to go to undesirable websites (due to accident or as a result of hacking) which can lead to distrust among customers
        • As it is a global system, it is very difficult to target the right audience by advertising on the website
        • The website needs to be maintained once it is set up, which can prove to be expensive
    • Multimedia Presentations
      • Any presentation that uses animation, video, sound or music are generally more interesting than a standard presentation done on slides or paper.
      • The presentations are produced using one of the many commercial software applications available in the market and then using a multimedia projector the whole audience is able to seee the presentation.
      • Advantages
        • The use of transition effects allows a presentation to display facts in a logical manner.
        • It is possible to make them interactive or hyperlinks built into the presentation, which means that the presentation could access the company’s website or even key files stored on the cloud.
        • The presentation can be interactive.
        • Use of sound and animation or video effects are more likely to grab the attention of the audience.  Moreover, this makes the presentation more easy to understand
        • As links to websites and other external systems like is possible, the presentations can be tailored to suit a particular audience.
      • Disadvantages
        • Whenever the presentation is given it is necessary to have internet access.
        • One needs special equipment which can prove to be expensive for many companies.
        • Equipment failure can prove to be disastrous when giving multimedia presentations.
        • Often the presentation can turn out to be bad if it contains too many animation effects and/or too much text or images.
        • When using a multimedia presentation, there is a danger that the focus is on the medium i.e. on the multimedia presentation itself rather than the facts or message which you want to convey.
      • Paper based presentations
        • It is always possible to produce presentations in a hardcopy format rather than the system just described.
        • Advantages
          • the recipients can read the presentation at any time as per their convenience
          • the recipients always have a permanent copy which they can refer at their will
          • disabled people don’t have to go to the venue to see the presentations
          • moreover, it is possible to print it out in Braille for the benefit of blind people
        • Disadvantages
          • there are no special effects like sound, video, animation, etc
          • there are printing costs for paper, ink, etc
          • the presentation needs to be distributed through some method
    • Music scores
      • The generation of music and the production of the music scores can now be done by computer systems with the appropriate software.  Some of the features of this technology includes but not limited to:
        • electronic instruments like guitars and organs can be played back through electronic effects machines
        • music samplers and mixers allow the original tracks that were recorded earlier to be modified in any way one wants
        • synthesisers combine simple wave forms to produce complex music creations
        • electronic organs can mimic any other instrument
        • the music score can be generated from the music itself using software
        • software can automatically correct music notes in a score
        • there is no real need to understand music notation to write a music score
        • music notes are automatically printed out in the correct format.
    • Cartoons
      • Animations can be created using computer software and hardware. With 3-D animation, objects are designed on a computer and a 3-D skeleton or framework or basic structure is produced.  The parts of the skeleton are moved by the animator using key frames (these frames define the starting point and ending point to give a smooth animation effect).  The difference in the appearance of the skeleton on these key frames is automatically calculated by the software and is known as tweening or morphing.  In the final stage, using a technique called rendering, a realistic image is made.
      • Cartoons can also be freehand drawings and then scanned or computer generated.
      • Further, just like any form of communication, cartoons should not offend anybody and at the same time, it is necessary to make sure that cartoons don’t become the main feature so that the actual message is lost.
    • Mobile Phones
      • Mobile phones communicate by using towers inside many cells networked together to cover large areas.  The towers allow the transmission of data throughout the mobile phone network.
      • Each tower transmits within its own cell; if you are driving a car and get to the edge of a cell, the mobile phone signal starts to weaken. This is recognised by the network and the mobile phone then picks up the signal in one of the adjacent cells.  If a person is making a call or sending a text to somebody in a different country then satellite technology is used to enable the communication to take place.
      • Mobile phone technology can now be used by computers and tablets.  A plug-in-device (using one the available USB ports) or SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card allows the computer to connect to the mobile phone network.  This then allows access to the internet.
      • Advantages
        • The phone can be used to make phone calls from any locationn within the cellular network.
        • It is easier to keep in contact with co-workers at the office no matter where you are.
        • There is no need to look for an operational public telephone in an emergency.
        • It is possible to conduct business or personal phone calls on the move.
      • As they allow text messaging:
        • it is quicker and less expensive than making phone calls
        • they employ predictive texting where the system completes a word from the first few letters keyed in e.g. key in ‘compl’ and the phone completes the word as ‘complete’.  This allows the system to remember frequently used words – together they increase typing speed
        • text messages can be sent at any time of the day or night even if the recipient’s phone is switched off.

Mobile phones allow access to the internet on the move using either the cellular network or a Wi-Fi ‘hot spot’.

  • Internet Telephony
    • The most common form of internet telephony i.e., having a telephone conversation via the internet is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
    • VoIP is a method to talk to people using the internet.  The sound which is picked up the computer microphone is converted into discrete digital packets in VoIP and sent to their destination via the internet.  The biggest advantages of VoIP is that it is either free (if both parties use computers to converse) or charged at a local rate to any call in the world (when VoIP is used to communicate with a mobile or land line instead of a computer).  Ofcourse, you will need a broadband connection to work in real time.  The main problem is sound quality in the form of echos and strange sounds.  Security is also a concern with VoIP, just as it is with other internet technologies.
    • One of the big advantage of VoIP is using it can be used as a video chat using the built-in webcam.  While this may not be a very sophisticated way of video chat, it is much cheaper as it uses the computer’s built-in microphones, speakers and webcams.  However, if you want to improve the video quality, use an expensive webcam, which connects to the computer’s USB ports.
  • Business cards and letterheads
    • Many IT companies offer to produce business cards and letterheads to any design.  The user connects to an appropriate website and they will given a number of business card templates.  The user chooses a template and keys in data such as
      • name of the company
      • contact details
      • image wanted on the business card
    • The final version of the business card is then shown.  The customer places their order and the business cards are printed and delivered.
    • Business cards are handed out to people as a form of personal advertisement.  The use of IT (in this case, a website) has made this a much easier task.  Business cards are less likely to be thrown away since they are seen as personal contact.  It is also possible to include additional information on the reverse of the card – this could be further advertising of the company’s products or it could be advertising another company.
    • Many of the advantages of having business cards are similar to the advantages of using headed stationery.
    • The same format used on the business cards can be adopted on a company letterhead.  This helps to project a corporate image.  As with business cards, these pages can be printed on high quality paper using a laser printer.
    • Flyers and brochures can be produced using the same design/logo so it becomes clear to the customer that all the communication has come from one company.
    • There are various advantages to a company in using corporate letterheads produced by a printing website:
      • legal reasons (it helps if there are any legal actions taken – legitimate documents using the company letterhead is regarded as proof of actual communication)
      • can make the company appear larger than it is (this could give a degree of confidence to potential customers)
      • professionalism (gives a degree of credibility to the company)
      • helps to make the company stand out (will tend to have more impact than white sheets of paper with a typed company heading)
      • brand/company awareness (advertises the company by using the same designs on all products)
      • advertising (the letterhead can contain many useful pieces of information to advertise the company).

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