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Interactivity in an Age of Immersive Media: Seven Dimensions for Wearable Technology, Internet of Things, and Technical Communication

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Purpose: Interactivity in virtual environments has been a key area of investigation in fields ranging from technical to creative sectors. Scholars find a cross-disciplinary disparity on what interactivity embodies and accomplishes. This article traces the definitions of interactivity in existing research, devises seven dimensions of interactivity for wearables and IoT products, and identifies key roles for technical communicators in immersive media design. Method: A research review of key literature on interactivity in general and technical communication and mobile technologies in particular. Results: Current literature shows that concepts of interactivity in communication design and technology are multifaceted. Seven dimensions of interactivity can be derived for immersive media design: 1) reciprocity/ease of response, 2) synchronicity/context awareness, 3) connectedness/ubiquity/pervasiveness, 4) navigability/accessibility, 5) user control/personalization, 6) entertainment/sensibility, and 7) sensory stimulation/multimodality. These dimensions can be mapped onto the interactive design of wearables and IoT products. They also inform the roles of technical communicators in producing immersive technical communication. Conclusion: Further investigation of the constructs in interactivity can help uncover a more accurate relationship between interactivity and its dependent variables. The new dimensions of interactivity in immersive media environments suggest that technical communicators and designers must pay attention to 1) the seamless connection between the user and the systems, data, and actions; 2) user control and customization; 3) proactive contextual assistance from smart technologies; and 4) device sensibility and sensory stimulations.
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Keywords: IMMERSIVE MEDIA; INTERACTIVITY; INTERNET OF THINGS; WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2018

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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