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Is augmented reality part of technical communication’s future? | Leading Technical Communication

While walking my dog last night I came upon a mother and her young son standing on the sidewalk. She was holding her smartphone high in front of her, pointing it toward the western sky. As I came n…

Source: Is augmented reality part of technical communication’s future? | Leading Technical Communication

My friend, Larry Kunz, wrote this thoughtful article about the uses of AR, and how they might–or might not–be used in technical communications.  I think he started to see how it might be used, but he didn’t think it all the way through. His main concern, however, was on target for most of us technical communicators–what is an AR app’s value from a business perspective? Is this something customers would pay for?

Larry had his doubts, but I say YES, and it’s already in practice.  In tech comm over the past few years, I think the idea of what content is has definitely broadened from simple words and images to include more multi-media types. I remember being at an Adobe Day event, and I think it was Matt Sullivan (I might be wrong) who showed us how 3-D images could be used in digital documentation in Framemaker, and how that was a big deal–which it is! Video and other animation is also something that’s now embedded into digital documentation as well. So why wouldn’t AR be included in that?

If an engineer is trying to understand how to fix a part, why couldn’t a help “doc” use AR to show where a missing part should be, or to show in a semi-transparent overlay that would align with what machine you are looking at to see how to make a repair?

Right now, there are already marketing apps out there that you can use on your phone to find businesses, like Blippar. It detects where you are located, and as you look through your phone screen around you, it can tell you what businesses are around you. So, say you are in some town, and you want to know if a restaurant is along your walking path downtown. You can hold up your phone, and see that there’s a coffee shop just beyond your sight line, and another cafe.  The technology–and its content–are already out there in AR.

So I think the bigger question is this–how are we, as technical communicators, going to start integrating more of this kind of technology into our content? I will agree that there needs to be a solid basis for it, just like every business does not need a mobile app.  Just like with mobile apps, I think time will tell how far we push this kind of content for our documentation.

What do you think? Include your answers below.



Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who currently employed at Cox Automotive, Inc., and freelances as her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, BASF North America, Merck, and Deloitte, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog,, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, TCUK (ISTC) and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. She is very active in the STC, as a former chapter president for the STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter, and is currently serving on three STC Board committees. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog. All content is the owner's opinions, and does not reflect those of her employers past or present.

One thought on “Is augmented reality part of technical communication’s future? | Leading Technical Communication

  1. When augmented reality (AR) first materialized in the public’s awareness, it was often dismissed as “eye candy” – an engaging but superficial way to make a product or brand sizzle.
    Over the past two years, however, we’ve seen Augmented reality App company across nearly every segment discover and develop innovative and deeply meaningful uses for mobile AR.

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