This is one of the 52 terms in The Language of Technical Communication published by XML Press in 2016 and the contributor for this term is Christine Perey.

What is it?

Both the suite of enabling technologies and the resulting experience of a user when highly contextual digital information (text, images, animations, video, 3D model, sound, or haptic stimuli) is presented in a manner that’s synchronized in real time with, and appears attached to, physical world people, places, or objects.

Why is it important?

By offering digital information (content) in context and providing interactivity with the content without leaving the physical world, augmented reality profoundly changes how people learn, live, and perform tasks in both physical and digital worlds.

Why does a technical communicator need to know this?

Augmented reality is emerging as the next user interface for presenting and capturing information that pertains to the physical world in context with the user’s focus of attention. More than just a novelty or amusement, augmented reality permits users to perceive beyond the superficial and to perform rare and complex tasks with assistance, reducing training and performance times and error rates.

This new approach to presenting, capturing, and interacting with information enables organizations to tap other emerging technology trends such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing, high performance and lightweight displays, and high-speed networks to their full potential.

As more people begin to use augmented reality, the role of technical communication professionals will expand with the growing need for information integration into the physical world. The existing professional roles will adapt information authoring, storage, and delivery processes. There will also be new roles created to support the gradual integration of augmented reality software and hardware with connected devices in a variety of different platforms and workflows.

Augmented reality technologies, and the new practices necessary to gracefully deliver and present digital information in context with the physical world are profoundly changing the human experience.