How on earth could the Apple Watch be used in technical communication?

Apple watchWhenever Apple launches a new product range, there’s a great deal of buzz and excitement. There’s lots of speculation as to how the technology could be applied by different professions and by consumers. Yesterday’s launch of the Apple Watch was no exception.

The title of this post may give away the fact that this post contains wild guesses. We may well look back on in five years time and ask, what were we thinking?

It’s unlikely we’ll be using it to create written content

LunateIt seems likely that Apple Watch will be a content consumption and data collection device rather than something you’d use to write content. It is possible to type on the Apple Watch, using the Lunate app, but the small screen would make writing a challenge.

You might use it to send a text message, but we doubt there’ll be an Apple Watch version of RoboHelp or Flare coming out soon.

Wearable keyboards are being developed, where they are woven into fabrics. That may be a more feasible technology for writers.


It could be an alternative to Google Glass

Google Glass holds out the promise of being able to display instructions to people as they do their job. For example, a car mechanic could look at the torque settings displayed in the glasses as she is tightening the nut. The Apple Watch could offer a similar solution, with the information displaying on the watch face. The Apple Watch is smaller, which would be a disadvantage. However, with the device being on the user’s arm, the watch may be able to know if the user has their arm in the right place. has it positioned at the correct angle, and is applying the correct amount of force. The watch could provide audio, haptic or visual feedback as to whether the user is moving their hand in the correct way.

Holograms would be even better

hologram projection

A way to get around the screen size limitation would be to have the content projected from the Apple Watch face. If the projection were holographic, you wouldn’t need a wall to display the image.

Companies are developing chips to bring holograms to Smartphones, so it might be possible to shrink these chips down so they could fit into a watch.

Content is likely to be embedded into apps rather than in a separate guide

Whole pantry app

It seems likely content that provides advice on using the Apple Watch apps will be embedded into the app itself. There’ll be advice to assist users as they go along. For example, the Target app “knows where you are in the store, sorts the shopping list you create on iPhone, and guides you to the next item”.

How do you think the Apple Watch could be used in technical communication?

Please share your thoughts below.


Antti Hietala

Your torque wrench example is spot on, Ellis. I imagine that any IoT device that does not have a screen of its own can send information to the watch. I see the card pattern working well on a tiny screen – just relevant bursts of information. A greenhouse sends water and nutrient levels to the gardener. A data center sends ambient temperatures to a devops engineer. It’s easy to think of scenarios where timely technical communication prevents errors.

Joe Welinske

While a very small screen may not accommodate Help info, many of these devices are either tightly integrated with a larger screen device or assume that users can go to one for assistance. For example, the Canvas app for the Pebble watch has a comprehensive web-based user guide:
Apple watch apps will probably leverage the tethering to the phone in your pocket.

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