Google Glass and Augmented Reality (stc14)

This week I’m attending STC Summit 2014, the annual conference of the Society for Technical Communication. Where feasible, I’ll take notes from the sessions I attend, and share them on this blog. All credit goes to the presenters, and any mistakes are mine.

Early on Tuesday morning, Marta Rauch spoke about “Google Glass and Augmented Reality – Tools for your Content Strategy Toolkit“.

Although I work at Google, I don’t have anything to do with Google Glass and don’t own a Glass device myself, so I was very interested to hear Marta’s experiences with it and her ideas on integrating it with content strategy.

This session was one of the ten virtual track sessions of the conference, which means that people around the world were listening in and participating. This is a new initiative by the STC. Very cool.


Marta’s talk covered the following aspects of how augmented reality and Google Glass affect technical communication:

  •  The market for wearable technology
  • Google Glass apps and use cases
  • The importance of augmented reality
  • Content strategy
  • Resources

Main takeaway

From Marta: These are two technologies we need to pay attention to, and we need to think how our content will look if we’re asked to develop for augmented reality or Google Glass.

Marta did a quick poll of the audience: approximately 20% had used wearable technology. Marta has noticed from the polls she takes during presentations that the number of people using wearable tech is growing. This is similar to the way mobile usage grew during its early adoption. She also showed us that the results of a survey showing that 27% of developers in 2014 plan to create apps for wearable tech.

Google Glass UX and apps

We had a quick look at what it’s like to use Google Glass: the menu that appears when you first say “OK Glass”, and the settings available. Marta remarked that the Glass user interface is very visual: lots of pictures/graphics and few words.

The apps on Google Glass are called “Glassware”. Marta showed us some pics of a spelling game, Twitter, Google+, voice translation, and more. “You can just speak instead of having to type. It’s really really handy.”

Marta also talked about Tesla and Mercedes, who are developing integrations that allow you to interact with your car via Google Glass.

Then there’s a doctor who’s using Glass to train medical students, and in surgeries. Surgeons put their content on Glass and do a webcast from the surgery, getting a second opinion from colleagues without needing to use their hands.

Marta showed a number of other very cool use cases and apps, including some that benefit people with disabilities. Then there’s fashion photography via Glass, cooking and recipe apps, news, shopping, workout… Many more.

Questions from the audience about the effect on your vision

At this point, two questions came from the audience:

  • Is Google Glass bad for your vision? Marta has discussed this with her optometrist. He said that Glass should not have a negative effect on her vision. In fact, Marta is short sighed, and her personal experience has been that her vision has improved slightly over the last year when she’s been using Glass. This is not due to Glass, but Glass has certainly not negatively affected her vision. Nevertheless, Marta recommends that you take regular breaks when using any type of technology.
  • Can you wear Google Glass with your regular prescription glasses? You can attach Google Glass to regular glasses frames, or put Glass over your glasses. And you can wear it with contact lenses.

The importance of augmented reality (AR)

What is AR? Marta showed us how a device such as a smart phone or Google Glass can add context and content to a magazine article. AR is something that enhances a person’s experience of reality by adding an overlay of digital information. The overlay could be an image, text, or other information.

Marta showed us some AR apps for Google Glass and wearable technologies. Theres an app that shows you how you’re doing in a running race. Or a car app that can show fuel levels, lifetime milage, oil life and tyre information.

AR is everywhere. 864 million phones are AR enabled now. 103 million cars will be AR enabled by 2020. It’s also big money, with the potential to generate a revenue of $600 billion by the end of 2016.

Marta listed the fields that are taking advantage of AR, including repair industries, surgery, automotive, mobile, and more. AR is replacing manuals, such as automotive repair guides.

Content for wearable tech

Marta gave some hints on how to write content for wearable technologies:

  • It must be useful.
  • Make it timely and relevant – just what you need to know, when you need to know it.
  • It must be unobtrusive.
  • Concise. Use few words.
  • Straightforward. You don’t know where the person is. Make the language colloquial and conversational. Marta’s colleagues have developed some guidelines which she can share.
  • Make it visual: graphics are easy and quick to understand.
  • Make it adaptable. The content must work across different devices.
  • It must be accessible. Follow the accessibility guidelines of your organisation.

Thanks Marta

It was great to see the progress Google Glass, wearable tech, and augmented reality have made over the last year. So many apps and use cases. This presentation clearly shows how important these new technologies are, and that we need to design our content accordingly.

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 21 May 2014, in STC, technical writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Marta Rauch's Blog and commented:
    Thanks to Sarah Maddox for the blog on my #STC14 talk on Google Glass and augmented reality.

  2. Thanks for the great blog post, Sarah. I’m so glad you could attend my session at STC14.

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