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AUGMENTED REALITY


Jess Butcher, CMO and co- founder of Blippar


on a consumer device. But it took three or four years before the processors were strong enough to do visual augmentations, meaning recognising something visually on a flat surface and quickly rendering digital information on top of that.” Two things really helped with Layar. “We


were one of the first companies to talk to the phone manufacturers, like Samsung. In 2008 the smart phone was coming up, but they were looking for ideas and technology that would propel it further. This was before Facebook really took off and you and me were pulling out a phone every five minutes to see who’s posted what. So with them pre-installing the software, we gained a lot of ground. But if you look at the quality of what you can do today, it’s so much better. It’s smoother and quicker.”


Gimmick? All agree, it’s more than a gimmick: Says Butcher: “There have certainly been novelty- esque applications of AR technology and it would be true to say that there’s only so many times that a 3D object coming out of a page will make a reader go ‘ooh’ or ‘ahhh’. But this misses the point; AR technology is simply an enabler for a new content platform – as subject to gimmicky content as any other. If the content delivered via the technology is only ever gimmicky, then the technology will be considered so, which would be unfair (after all, no one blames the internet for an ugly webpage, or the Twitter platform for a prejudiced user-generated comment). We work hard with all of our partners to ensure that interactive experience on our platform offers customers more than just AR for AR’s sake. It should offer at least one of the following – if not seek to offer all three: entertainment (e.g. a game, video, AR experience), utility (e.g. ‘buy now’ link, nearest


Tony Macklin, director of product and development, Immediate Media, UK


Examples of Immediate Media’s titles using augmented reality to enhance the reader experience


store locator, latest travel update) or value (mobile coupon, free recipe, competition). “It is a gimmick if you use it as a gimmick,” says Lens-FitzGerald. “So if you are an advertiser – and they do like new flashy things – you can put a dancing guy on top of a beer coaster. That’s a gimmick. What’s the real value there? It blows away. But if you are a publisher and you are saying, for instance, what Net- a-Porter are, which is: ‘We are going to do this for a couple of issues and learn how it works, and see if we can integrate this into our day- to-day business,’ then it is not a gimmick. The same goes for Seventeen, where they do AR in every big issue (200 pages). They are really committed to doing it well.” “If used properly, then of course [it’s not a gimmick],” says Schwartz. “Publishers should demystify their understanding of AR and instead think of it as a publishing channel. People will always want to have their time occupied; AR just enables them to consume content in the real world beyond the pages of print or a destination website.” “For me this is not a gimmick, this is a


way of helping our business on a journey from thinking about print layout to thinking about how to create digital experiences,” says Macklin. “This is important in publishing.


fipp.com


AR magazines Shortlist, Net-a-Porter, Seventeen, Nuts, Heat, Gardeners World, Dr Who,


Trailblazers:


Radio Times, Mail on Sunday, Glacier Media, Zombies, Run!, Starchart, Wikitude, AR invaders


Blippar provides a fantastic way for teams to go on that journey. Teams have to think what sort of videos to use, what images are available, how to lay the magazine out; which is exactly the same thing as what you do on the web, or on print.” The service providers agree there will be a gimmick element. “What other product has the ‘Ah!’ factor?” says Lens-FitzGerald. “If you use that initial positivity and if you use it for the long-term and are strategic about it, you have a great ride.” “When is ‘gimmick’ a negative thing anyway?” adds Butcher. “There is, and always will be, a value to gimmicks in marketing-terms. Fun, attention-grabbing gimmicks work – whether roller skating babies or a promotions team dressed up as bananas.”


Future prospects Technology is developing so


fast it’s difficult to determine the future for AR. So will its role as a ‘bridge’ diminish once it’s served its purpose? No, according to Schwartz: “Technology will only improve. Hardware will become more efficient, infrastructure will become faster and the screens by which you can augment content will increase – think smartphone to glassware to actual interactive objects.” Says Butcher: “It doesn’t just have a ‘future’


issue 83_2014 | Magazine World |15


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