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Content Creation in the Age of the Internet of Things (IoT)

Imagine getting home from work and your home opens your garage, unlocks your door, lights your way, and appropriately runs the air conditioning. What if your oven gave you dinner recommendations on your mobile?

Imagine that your bracelet awakens you at night because it has sensed irregular heart patterns. What if it has already sent this information to your primary care physician and called for medical assistance?

Well…imagine no more! These things are now closer to reality like never before!

Suddenly, static, lifeless objects around us are turning into these “smart”, “artificially intelligent” beings that communicate with each other…and with us.

Welcome to the world of the Internet of Things (IoT)!

The IoT is a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, etc., that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity, which enable them to connect and exchange data.

Currently, 9 billion devices worldwide are connected to the internet. By 2020, there will be 30 billion of them networked. And in the next 10 years, this number could explode to 1 trillion, consisting of 212 billion sensor-enabled objects, 110 million connected cars, and 330 million people!

So what does this explosion of connected devices mean for technical communicators? What content strategy do we need to adopt in the age of the IoT?

Here’re a few pointers:

  • Create content as accessible, relevant chunks for the right context:

Content is no longer just about videos, social posts or Websites. It’s no longer only about creating modular content either.

With all the networked objects sensing the world (and us!), there’s a lot of end-user information that needs to be refined and packaged into more contextual accessible chunks. Ultimately, it is about delivering what users want, where they want it, and on whatever device is within reach. It is about delivering the right content in the right context.

For example, content may now need to be accessible in newer contexts such as smart glasses or other augmented reality environments.

  • Use Controlled or Simplified English in content:

To enable the IoT to communicate with each other, use Controlled or Simplified English. Standard English is verbose and confusing. So, limiting word choice, syntax, and sentence length and adopting active voice structure, all help make content easier to read, use and even translate.

  • Try Experience-first thinking:

With the IoT, we’re really coordinating something bigger than just a network of content – we’re building rich user experiences. This means we need to define the experience before we dig deep into the technology, interfaces and content.

To aid our thinking, we need to work with teams that design systems where hardware, human habits and physical spaces entwine. We also need to work with User Experience teams, marketing teams, Localization providers, Technical Support teams and so on, in order to provide content that not only meets the needs of the product, but also enriches user experiences.

For example, we need to think about: How should content respond to end-user’s behaviour? How should it adapt to different touchpoints?

We also need to explore is the physical influence content can have over a connected space. For example, setting a room light to blink when a piece of content is most relevant.

In short, the goal for us is to deliver content in accessible, contextually-relevant chunks that ultimately enhance the end-user experience. We strive to achieve this today, but in future the IoT will DEMAND it.

 

Arthi Prakash is a Senior Writer with Innovatia’s technical writing team, based in Bangalore, India. She started off her career in IT R&D as a software engineer, and has worked with companies like HP Singapore and Convergys USA in the past. She later switched careers to Technical Writing and has been working in the field for over 9 years.

1 Comment

  1. E.J. Smith

    Great article Arthi, very well thought out.

    Reply

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