Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Augmented reality in my dreams

Google Glass wormed its way into my dreams last night. Or, at least something like Glass—a number counter in my field of vision. In my dream, I was preparing to go out to dinner with my family, even as I was thinking about all the things I had left undone. As one of my thoughts about a particular To-Do task entered my conscious, the counter would visually count up from 0 to 8 then back down to 4. That told me that I didn’t have to do that task for up to eight more days, so I really didn’t need to start thinking about it for four more days. Forget about it for now; go have a good dinner it seemed to be telling me.

Now if only I could stop dreaming about all the things I need to be doing. Let my “spare brain” on a computer chip keep thoughts about my tasks prioritized. In the light of day, it isn’t really such a far stretch to imagine that kind of mind-to-machine power working with wearables listening to us talk about things we're doing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pinpoint necessary data to appear right in front of your eyes

Your pocket isn’t convenient enough and data is too monstrous to scan. Those are two reasons why Google Glass is “inevitable” in the workplace, according to analytics author Chris Taylor, who blogs at Successful Workplace.

It’s only a matter of time before ‘line of sight’ becomes the primary place for everything we care most about,” he writes. “It’s only logical that we’d put what matters most in the place where we can digest and use it immediately…continually in front of our eyes.”

The most immediate example he uses in his blog is in the health care arena, also the topic of a previous Gaze Further blog post.

Besides being visual and hands-free, wearable computing, Taylor points out, meets our expectations of getting information we need or want anywhere, anytime. He says that especially at work, a phone in your pocket isn’t convenient. Powerful analytics provide the capability to deliver what matters most, rather than manually scanning large amounts of information to glean important data.

Those views are through the eyes of a data cruncher: Don’t give me too much information; give me what I need. And, don’t make it so hard for me to get to. That sounds an awful lot like the feedback employee communicators hear: There’s too much information for me to pay attention to. And please deliver it by the channels that appeal to me.

How does it look through the eyes of a digital creative agency? Purple, Rock, Scissors put together a demo about Glass in daily life, including shopping, exercise, entertainment, instructions, and home security—even how to find where you parked your car. This short video answers the question: What can Glass do for you?

What would you want Glass to do for you as you go through your day?
  • You could ask how many employees so far have viewed your morning post on the intranet and receive the count every minute, five minutes, 30 minutes, or whatever you chose.
  • You would get a notification that you’ve just typed “that” instead of “than”—something spell check didn’t catch but Glass can see.
  • You’re on a conference call with half a dozen people from your company’s regional offices. You don’t know them that well, so sometimes it’s hard to distinguish their voices and know who is speaking when. Glass can flash the photo with the name and job role for each individual each time he or she speaks.
  • You could get a notice when someone shares your Yammer or Facebook post on a particular topic, even as you are walking back to the office with coffee in one hand and a donut in the other.
  • Get the camera out of the way. As you interview someone as part of your content creation, go ahead and get photos at the same time while the individual is relaxed and conversational. For that matter, leave the tape recorder behind if you are still using one.
  • Wondering if your favorite user experience analyst is in one of the pods on the collaboration floor? If so, please provide visual instructions through the maze of modules to find her.
  • As you’re making a presentation to your professional association peers and you mention a book title, the author’s name appears in your line of sight just to make sure you remember it.
  • While you’re driving home and wondering if you really need to stop by the dry cleaners, too tired to remember what’s on your calendar for tomorrow, you can ask out loud and get an answer as to whether you need to wear a suit tomorrow because of any high-level meeting.

I’ll be thinking about it over the next few days. You think, too, and share your ideas. What would be totally awesome for Glass to do for you? Glass is in development stage, and Google wants input on ways people would really use it as part of their workday. 

(Reminder: I do not work for Google or receive anything from the company, not even a free T-shirt.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

“Active shooter”: Communicating more than a breaking news statement

“Active shooter.” That’s what an email sent to people on Capitol Hill said, or so the mass media first announced about reported gunfire yesterday. “Active shooting” might have been a better term we know now. “Active shooter” has quickly entered the vernacular as a crazed gunman in a place of business, a school, or a shopping mall. This time, though, shots came from police who, it seems now, may have been appropriately responding to a 2-ton bullet on gasoline-powered wheels—an automobile.

Again as a news consumer, I have read that the second message, “All clear,” flashed on video screens in federal government buildings about an hour later.

Active shooter. All clear. In this instance, those two phrases may have been sufficient communication, because the tragedy didn’t escalate to involve bystanders. But for corporate communicators who practice crisis exercises, perhaps this is a timely opportunity to ask, What if?

What if an active shooter in the workplace threatens the lives of employees? And what if that shooter is going office to office or floor to floor, outside the scope of surveillance cameras? If Google Glass were prevalent in that workplace, in even its current beta format, wearers could capture and feed a visual report to help responding officers assess the situation and secure employees from harm.

In addition, crisis teams could deliver instructions through Glass to people who most need to know what to do next. Notifications, updates, information cards—those are the kinds of terms we use to define succinct messages delivered by Glass. What general, quick messages can we script in advance so they are ready to adapt to a specific situation if needed? What if communication to a Glass wearer could unobtrusively provide instructions in how to respond to an active shooter?

What if we help shape the development of wearable computing to take advantage of built-in sensors to better handle crisis incidents. In the case of a shopping mall shooting, for example, sensors in wearable computers could pinpoint where innocent shoppers are hiding, and whether they are imminently threatened. Officials could give specific directions for taking cover. If the situation allowed escape, a map could appear in peoples' line of sight with arrows pointing the route to safety.

Much Google Glass hype seems to revolve around extreme sports videos and unposed baby smiles. Glass for crisis situations may be gloomy by comparison, but it’s worth thinking about to be well prepared.