Augmented Reality: Right Here, Right Now

Consider the situation: your car broke down in the middle of nowhere, and you have no idea about what’s causing the problem. What if you had a device that could detect what exactly is wrong and show you how to fix it?
With augmented reality, that’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Augmented reality in techcomm
Technical communication world is constantly employing the emerging software trends for improving user assistance.
The newest trend in this respect is augmented reality. By far, it has been mostly used in video games, and for a good reason – it persuaded even a skeptical couch-happy techcomm girl like me that she can parkour like a Cat Woman in her sweatpants. Talk about fantasy come true, huh?
But this skeptical couch-happy techcomm girl couldn’t help thinking: if augmented reality could entertain, could it also provide user assistance? BMW said: ‘Duh’.
BMW data goggles, their technical staff can get instant instructions about how to perform a specific operation. Every step is shown in writing, voiced, and illustrated by means of a sophisticated animation.

BMW data goggles, 2007

BMW data goggles, 2007

Actually, car industry is booming with practical augmented reality apps, allowing you to answer your texts via car controls or view engine details just by pointing your tablet at it. Right here, right now, as in the good ol’ Fat Boy Slim song.
And that’s not the limit. In 2014, the East Carolina Geology department presented
augmented reality simulation that helps understand topography of land and water. You can not only observe the topography change under various conditions, but impact the topography yourself: throw a handful of sand into the water and watch the ripples.

Augmented reality simulation, East Carolina Geology Department, 2014

Augmented reality simulation, East Carolina Geology Department, 2014

Techcomm in augmented reality
There are a couple of reasons why your company’s portfolio should include augmented reality. It’s trendy, it’s ultraeffective, it’s bound to make your customers jump for joy. It’s also a bit heavy on the wallet, but the truth is, augmented reality can effectively solve any educational or training problem. Especially in extreme conditions, like survival situations or plane emergencies, when you’d hardly carry a PDF manual around.
Although augmented reality apps are usually 90% developer effort, you as a Technical Communicator, can contribute as well. The types of activities that you might venture include the following:


  • Work with Business Analyst to gain head-to-toe understanding of your target audiences.
  • Cooperate with UX Engineer to determine the user assistance scenarios that need to be covered.
  • Develop instructions for each step of the scenario. Focus on the crucial info that is indispensable.
  • Evaluate the need for tooltips or hints, provide wording for error messages. Concentrate on producing short yet meaningful pieces of information.
  • Oversee other UI text, ensure that it’s clear and self-explanatory.



Because augmented reality apps vary so much in scale and purpose, your role might be more or less pronounced, but rarely unneeded, so get right on it! If you don’t take it from me, take it from the couch-strewn sweatpants-clad Cat Woman.


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