Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bringing print to life ... using augmented reality

The promise of seeing 'this magazine come alive on your iPhone' only served to disappoint.

I had dispatched QR codes to the trash can a while ago as yet another great technology that was for a while seen as a way to connect the printed page to the online world. But somehow, despite a rash of checkered squares appearing all over advertisements for a while, the subsequent experience failed to excite. At best the link opened a relevant video or web site landing page which was fine if you wanted to discover more about the subject of the original advertisement. But when QR  codes started appearing on bus sides and across the tracks at tube stations, the chore, even danger, of pointing the iPhone at them soon over rode any interest in viewing the content.

Then, the other day through the letter box arrived a local magazine with the invitation to "See this magazine come alive on your phone or iPad " splashed on the cover.  Inside the publication the contents page carried a lead story under the heading of " Our new interactive magazine bringing print to life ... using augmented reality." A tag line proclaimed "Augmented reality connects the online and offline worlds." Page footers  included a 'layar' logo imploring to be scanned. It sounded exciting, maybe someone had figured out how to make QR codes relevant. But hold on. What was the magazine about and what was the reality that was about to be augmented? The 20 page A4 publication devoted half a page to a 'Welcome' from the managing director (not an editor) of the publication,  further half pages to 'Contents', a brief article about the town's coat of arms, a page announcing local events (many already long gone) an article about red haired people and the rest advertisements for local trades and shops. Not too promising content to come alive thanks to augmented reality then. There are at least two other magazines of the same local advertising - typically 85% ads to 15% editorial - which have recently appeared.

At a barbecue last weekend friends of ours who run businesses locally talked about advertising and how local advertising had brought them no enquiries at all. So are these local magazines merely a means of getting local businesses to part with money?

Oh and the augmented reality? A message saying "No content found for this scan" appeared to be he only result.

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