Google Glass Exploration: A Global Heads Up

If you’re a fan of the cultural dimensions of information and communications technology and also into wearables, then you might like to play at being a Geert Hofstede or Edward T. Hall over the Holidays.

Read and analyze the blog “Heads Up on Displays: Exploring Google Glass Globally“ to satisfy your inner academic. You may even come up with a new theory, until I get around to it.


London’s Selfridges at night. Pictured through Google Glass (pic: Ultan O’Broin)

The blog features the reactions of different cultures to Google Glass Explorers and includes some nice local observations from China, Ireland, Mexico, the UK, and the U.S.. We categorize Google Glass as a Heads Up Display (HUD) technology, which is a key user experience trend for 2014, along with other wearables. That trend is global.

It’s a fun blog and purely qualitative, but it will inform  the shaping of something more scientific later. Expect to see and hear more about the cultural, linguistic, and related aspects of HUDs and other wearables in 2014. Over to the industry for comment ….

Happy Holidays (or local variants thereof)!

Noli Timere: Seamus Heaney, Translation, and a Wall in Dublin

Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet and playwright, passed away in Dublin on 30 August, 2013, after a short illness.

His last words, sent by text message to his wife, Marie, minutes before he died, were Noli timere (Latin for Do not be afraid). I took the photograph below in Dublin, a short walk from my home, capturing his last words in tribute.

Don't Be Afraid. Wall tribute to Seamus Heaney, Portobello, Dublin by Maser Art

Don’t Be Afraid. Wall tribute to Seamus Heaney, Portobello, Dublin by Maser Art

This Latin phrase, Noli timere, appears about 70 times in the Vulgate version of the Bible, translated by Saint Jerome in the fourth century. Heaney was also a skilled translator, and he crafted his work with language as deliberately as Saint Jerome did, for example in his prize-winning translation of Beowulf (1999).

The UK newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, in an article on Heaney’s last words (and those of others), tells us:

It is notable that every time the word timere appears in the Bible it is coupled with noli (or nolite, the plural form) – do not be afraid. Often the phrase is uttered by God or his angel, for the very good reason that, if you are suddenly presented with a burning fiery furnace of raw Being, it is frightening (and not just trivially scary in the big-dipper sense).

Even at the end, then, Heaney chose his words deliberately, it seems. We can ponder that they were sent using modern technology, sure, but I don’t think that matters. Only the words themselves, and their context does.

I think about them, every time I walk past that wall.

Tributes to the man came from far and wide, a testament to his greatness, to what he gave us during his life, but also to what he has left us for generations to come.

Ar dheis dé go raibh a anam.

DARE to be HyperLocal: Context and Language at the Mall

I love this piece about regional language preferences from the San Francisco Chronicle blog, “Which Words Are Special to Californian?”. It offers us a look at the Harvard University Press Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), described as “…an Urban Dictionary you can share with your parents and co-workers without fear of being disowned or encouraged to ‘retire early’.” Although it doesn’t contain some of the terms I’ve become familiar with from my time in Silicon Valley, the DARE is still insightful as to how enduring some terms can be once they enter the local vernacular.

Dictionary of American Regional English Map (sourced from

Dictionary of American Regional English Map (sourced from

The DARE is interesting and fun, sure. It reminds us that localization isn’t just about adapting from one major source natural language to another target language, but can be about adapting between variants of the same language too. But there’s a serious side to all this, and there are real use cases out there for taking these kind of language resources, to go much further, and to solve real user problems and offer great user experiences.

Consider that we are now in the age of the Internet of Things, of sensors, and of hyperlocal context. Combining these local dictionaries with sensor technology such as the iBeacons now used at Apple Stores in the U.S., or other sensors as wearables, will provide a very personalized user or customer experience in a preferred regional language at a much more granular level than we are used to now. This experience could enhance a range of activities: shopping, doing business, keeping fit, picking up the kids, simply living your life, whatever.

It’s all about context, people. Yes, there’s that word again.

Sensors, wearables, hyperlocal context, and using micro-dictionaries or other language resources, these are sort of areas that Language Service Providers, and other industry bodies interested in technology, should really be investigating and offering integrative solutions that are ready for others to go global with, when needed.

Maybe they already are. Find the comments.

Augmented Reality Translation and Wearables: Sit Up and Take Notice

About three years ago on Blogos, I wrote about the Visual Quest Word Lens app. I wrote that “there was a lot more than meets the eye” to the app. I also speculated what could happen if the app offered connectivity and was integrated with other platforms.

Recently, I became a Google Glass Explorer and have now spent some time, er, exploring Word Lens on Google Glass. Something much, much, much more interesting has arrived.

Google Glass and WordLens Apps

Noel Portugal (@noelportugal) of the Oracle Applications User Experience team demonstrates Word Lens AR translation on Google Glass at an Oracle UX  event for Oracle applications partners.

All I can say is “wow!”. I was totally knocked out when using Word Lens this way. But beyond that, now that I have begun to formulate emerging use cases, I’m really excited by more immediate practicalities. An augmented reality (AR) translation app and wearable technology  is a natural fit. This combination offers a lot of value in the enterprise as well as for personal use, perhaps even more so.

So, expect to see a lot more integrations of translation tools and wearable platform options discussed, but also coming to life in code, in 2014. As I also predicted earlier on Blogos, you can also expect wearables to appear on the localization conference circuit from now on. With submissions coming from me, for example.

Watch this space…