What is Augmented Reality?


Augmented Reality (AR) is the layering of media (video, music, text, picture, graphics, animation) on top of a live video feed or real world environmenta in real time to create an interactive experience. According to Layar, Augmented Reality was originally invented by Ivan Sutherland back in 1968, but it wasn’t until the 90s when the term was coined by Tom Caudell and David Missel.

And what does that mean in English? Imagine seeing an ad with an icon, logo or simple instruction referring you to an app (maybe a third party app, maybe one owned and operated by the publication or the product/service itself). You would simply launch the app, hold your phone up to scan the picture in the ad and prepare to taken somewhere else. Maybe a video pops up on your phone, maybe you’re redirected to a website or, in a music story, even a Spotify playlist. All in all, it’s a way  to add another dimension to a previously 2D ad, a way to direct interested users somewhere to get fun or useful info.

Augmented reality can be used for a plethora of various functions–from marketing and  advertising to magazines to architecture to gaming, and even to GPS systems. The technology is technically well established (as it ‘s been around 27 years), but it’s just now reaching it’s full potential.

Currently there are many iPhone and Droid apps that allow users to overlay the view from their camera with information about the surrounding area. Augmented reality is not just some niche trendy idea; it’s a giant marketing industry.  In fact, analyst firm Juniper Research estimates that AR apps will generate close to$300 million in global revenue next year, meaning it’s hardly a passing trend. (Mashable)

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In 2009 National Geographic Magazine used the idea of augmented reality to combine apps that use GPS locations and photographs to tell information about the user’s location such as constellations, restaurant reviews,and updated local crime information.

Augmented Reality and Print Media

Print and digital media don’t have to be mutually exclusive…

The age of intertextuality has arrived, where it’s not simply texts interacting with one another, but texts, graphics, videos, websites, shopping and more interacting with one another to give a comprehensive view of a word or place. Print isn’t dead–that’s a myth–so people shouldn’t worry about that. Instead, they should worry about optimizing their own websites and apps to be able to interact with a wide selection of magazines and newspapers. Many magazines such as Maxim and Esquire, have begun making interactive covers and insets inside the magazine. (Esquire even had an entire augmented reality-themed issue.) The magazines simply place their AR indicator (logo, symbol, etc.) on certain scannable pages and, when the reader scans, they’re directed to something fun and exciting on their phone. For example, if the magazine were to implement AR on a fashion page, by using the app the user may be directly linked to a fashion show featuring the clothes or an online store where they can buy them.

Making Money with Augmented Reality

Because augmented reality can be used in print to offer further information about a company, venue or special, a publication can charge for it like they would with advertising.

Here are some examples of how businesses can use augmented reality…

  • Restaurants and Bars:
    Enhance ads with specials, coupons or a video of an awesome bar scene at peak hours. This enhancement can be charged for as an upgrade to a regular space advertisement.

Augmented Reality for Restaurant

App allows users to easily “Order Now”

  • Hotels, Music Venues and Spas:
    Use augmented reality to not only advertise one picture of their space or offers, as print formerly offered, but create a video that shows off the whole area or the whole menu of specials.

AR for Spas

Darque Tan us the app for a guided video tour of their menu.

  • Video/Commercials:
    Any ad that was formerly perceived to be better on television than in print can now be easily attached to a print ad, offering businesses double the value for their print . This video attachment to the print via augmented reality is not only better for a comprehensive understanding for the consumer, but it is also getting more value out of the cost of production for the original commercial. By not only using the commercial on TV or on the website or blog, and putting it as an attachment to a magazine ad, not only does the company get even more value out of the commercial that they’ve already paid to produce, but it also appears “in the know” about current technology.AR video
  • The Brewsky uses a How-To video to support and explain the product and how to use it!
  • Editorial Content:
    By incorporating mobile augmented reality into editorial content, readers can unlock behind-the-scenes video, special discounts and deals, and much, much more–just by pointing their device at the page! This not only offers a unique opportunity to mobilize content for readers, but allows magazines to make the pages of their magazine come to life with easily accessible content that adds a voice, a personality…something extra.

AR for magazine articles

Magazine editorial POPS with videos and behind-the-scenes footage!


Augmented Reality examples of how magazines and advertisers are using the technology

 Augmented Reality and Study Breaks Magazine

sb-1280Study Breaks magazine has been portraying college life via print since 1988. Now, with Study Breaks AR, college life is coming…well, to life!

The app is a quick and simple way to connect with local businesses to find local events, offers and listings; unlock augmented content on images and objects to play games; and experience new virtual interactions. All in all, with the app, users are simply a scan away from goingbehind the scenes on photo shoots, concerts, interviews and just witnessing the everyday shenanigans that go into making a magazine.


Find (and download!) Study Breaks AR now to explore college life via augmented reality!

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