Context is King in Eyeware Computing

In the 1960s, there was a single computing context: large projects run by large companies and governments with lots of money and engineers. Today, billions of people compute in quite virtually every context of their lives (drinking, driving, watching tv, reading, etc). As computing form factors have shrunk, human-computer friction has decreased and thusly context has increased. These attributes are inversely correlated.

About 60 seconds into this video from Google IO 2013, Robert Scoble talks about the power of context with regards to Google Glass. He's right. Context defines eyeware computing.

Google issued four user interface guidelines to Glass developers:

1. Design for Glass

2. Don't get in the way

3. Keep it timely

4. Avoid the unexpected

The first one is rather generic, but the final three guidelines collectively assert that apps need to be contextual. Contextually relevant information does not get in the way, doesn't show up at the wrong time, and doesn't show up when it's not expected or desired. Context is king.

Smartphones are very contextual devices. They know who you are, where you are, what you like, where you need to go, and more. Glass knows all of that too. But in addition to all of that, Glass provides one incredible new context: what you see. This is profound. Glass will eventually be able to pull virtually any information that you need without any user intervention based on what you're looking at. Scoble is right: Google needs to develop a contextual OS with triggers for all kinds of contexts - such as mode of transportation, entering a room, seeing a person, etc - that developers can plug into. The number of contextually-driven triggers is endless. In healthcare, for example, Glass could:

1. display DNR status to clinicians if a patient codes

2. beep if the active chart in the EHR is not the patient that the doctor is looking at

3. automatically display new information that's available for the patient since the last encounter

Please comment and list contexts where you think Glass and other eyeware computers can automatically provide guidance.