Bridging Real and Virtual: QR Codes, NFC, and Augmented Reality

Neil Perlin


How do we take users of online help systems to the topics that contain the information they need? Context sensitivity makes this easy to do when we create online help for software, but how do we create “context sensitivity” for hardware? More broadly, how do we connect the “real” world and the “virtual” online world in order to bridge the two, especially as “mobile” becomes more and more common?

In this webinar, we’ll look at three technologies for doing that. None are tech comm tools per se, but all offer a lot of potential for tech comm. (They’re also in various states of "far-outness.") The simplest and most easily used today is the QR code, those square “bar codes” that have popped up in recent years. More speculative is the use of NFC and NFC tags that let two users pass information when they tap their smartphones together or automatically go to a website that contains online help by simply holding a smartphone over a little sticker. Most speculative is augmented reality, which lets us superimpose information on top of the real world, such as adding virtual callouts when a user points a smartphone camera at a machine.

This presentation starts by defining each technology, then offers some examples of their use in the general world and the tech comm world, discusses the pros and cons, and provides sources of information. There's a certain toy-like air to these technologies, but their capabilities and potential make them anything but.