As Social and Digital Media forges ahead with new technology and features, print media continues to work at finding its place in the digital realm. Some newspapers have folded; others have scaled back production or moved to entirely digital format. Some, however, have discovered a technology that has been around since 2009, that helps bridge some of the gap between the printed medium and the digital one. The augmented reality app called Layar.
For those that are unfamiliar with Augmented Reality, it is the addition of digital content to a physical view. Not new technology, there is everything from augmented reality games, where you can fight aliens in your community on your iPhone, to Google Glass. Layar takes this tool and uses it to enhance the printed page, via a mobile app that allows you to see everything from video to making websites pop from the printed page. Now, a professional magazine cover can become a video introduction or a bus stop poster can become an interactive product demo.
With the traditional printed paper, words and images tell the story. With the application of Layar, those words are given a voice and the images become video, immersing the reader in content beyond the paragraph, but without ever leaving the printed page. Readers simply hold their mobile device up to the page and access the digital content that pops up on their screen. A button to a website or to share that content on Social Media. Buttons to click that call a person or company in the articles, or playing a video that expands upon the dynamic photo printed. Newspaper advertisers can add an AR button that takes users to product sales pages to get more details and even purchase right from their device. Newspapers and magazines can even expand their news offering through the creation of news channels on YouTube and linking to “on-the-scene” video by reporters.
Suddenly, that blah newspaper is no longer blah.
Simple to Create
What is most enticing about the Layar app is the creator. Something that seems complicated (and, to some) impossible, is actually very easy. Upload the pages that your want to connect Layar content, select the pages that you want to edit, choose the button or feature you want to add, link the digital content to it and apply. Publish and view the page on your mobile device. Simple.
Included in the Layar offering are analysis tools, as well, that allow you to track the use of those AR pieces and see if your new digital offering is getting the traffic that you are looking for. It even drills down to the button clicks and tracks it all, globally.
Pricing is pretty decent, considering what you are getting for the price, starting at USD$20.00 per page and coming down in price based on number of pages (USD$12.99 per page, for 100 pages or more). Publishing companies can manage multiple publications through Layar App Service and the company even encourages the use of their tool by schools, students, teachers and charities, by offering the service free under their Layar Sponsored Pages.
Think Beyond the Page
While the focus is on printed material like newspapers and magazines, it is important to think beyond just those mediums. In fact, as I discovered, any PNG or JPEG image can be turned into a Layar model. I scanned my business card and a few minutes later I had a business card that (with the Layar app on my iPhone) accessed an introduction video of my consulting services, my company Facebook and Twitter accounts and a button that allows a person to call me…from my business card!
Opportunities for educators to make interactive text books for students, students to make interactive reports, artists to share their latest music via an ad in a magazine and charities to get donations directly through a newspaper ad, all exist. Is it farfetched to think that Visitor Centre maps have links and video to people and places, right from their preferred mobile platform? If you are a publisher, PR or Communications person, this app should be on the top of your list for expanding your content offering in print media, in this digital age.