How augmented reality is bringing print media to life again

Is print media on its last run?

It’s a digital world. In 2000, LIFE Magazine closed its doors after 64 years. Sadly, it isn’t the only print publication to take a bow to the new tech-driven world.

With magazines cutting their editorial staff and newspapers limiting the frequency of publications, many view print publications as prehistoric. It seems that the only people reading print nowadays are baby boomers. Will print survive much longer? The answer can be found in augmented reality.

What is augmented reality?

Since its launch on July 6, 2016, Pokémon Go has received over 100 million downloads. The popular gaming app utilizes augmented reality to allow users the ability to interact with their surrounding environment. All you need is a smartphone with a camera. The United States military, the medical field and gaming industry have all capitalized on the new technology’s ability to superimpose a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world. Now, augmented reality is bringing one student newspaper back to life.

How augmented reality is changing print media

Brigham Young University’s newspaper publication, The Universe, has found a way to stay relevant to the student body by using augmented reality. With a simple, unique QR code, readers can view embedded video files, photos or audio files on their smartphones. It’s like watching the newspaper come to life.

“The possibilities are endless,” says Ellen Hernandez, business manager of The Universe. She has focused on augmenting advertising space along with editorial content. The school’s newspaper used to run five days a week until digital media captured the attention of students and staff. “Now, the paper circulates only once a week with nearly a third of what we used to circulate. We all felt the need to make our product relevant to our readers again,” she said.

Want to watch the highlights from the football game? Scan the article. Want to hear a story in your native tongue? Scan the story. Want to see a walk through of a new apartment complex? Scan the advertisement.

When asked how the idea came to fruition, Hernandez explained that an app developer at a media convention approached her. “He showed me what augmented reality could do for the newspaper but more importantly the value it added to our clients, editorial staff and readers,” she said. “Students love it.”

The ability to augment the newspaper has two major benefits:

  • Augmenting editorial content: Editors can include additional imagery or videos from interviews.
  • Augmenting advertisements: Clients purchasing ad space can now include links directly to their company website.

The Universe developed an app called Universe Plus that is exclusive for augmented content in each publication.

The newspaper has seen an increase in readership since introducing augmented reality to its publication. Why? It provides value to the readers in that it gives them a more personalized experience while reading the news. They are in control and can adapt the message to their environment, no matter where they are. Thanks to augmented reality, our grandparents don’t have to be the only ones who read the evening paper.

Will print survive much longer? Only time will tell if augmented reality can save our newspapers and magazines from certain extinction.

Do you know of a magazine or a newspaper that could benefit from augmented reality? Write a letter to the editor and recommend augmented reality today!

Jake Goodsell is a public relations student at Brigham Young University. A native of Colorado, he enjoys rock climbing and skiing with his wife.

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