A new era for paper and print, digital style

The uptake in the use of image recognition (IR) and augmented reality (AR) is increasing. Not to forget quick response (QR) codes and even Documobi’s Intelligent Print Recognition™ (iPR). What all of these tools are doing is bridging the gap between the paper, print and digital worlds via tablets and smart phones, providing the reader with a complete communication experience. This article is partly our thoughts, research we’ve gathered and a lengthy chat we had with Deborah Corn from Print Media Centr (PMC) in the USA – thanks Deb! We love paper but we love the digital world too and now, they can both play nice.

Tell me more…
All of these buzz words can be a bit much. In a nutshell, in the case of AR/IR, software and apps have been designed for smart phones and tablets. They can recognise images via the camera (or webcam in the case of computers), scan them and then provide an interactive digital experience. QR codes (the black and white squares used on print ads or outdoor displays) can be easily generated with free software and hundreds of different apps can read them. You can see there are various options available. The one you choose all depends on what your client wants and the end result needed because all the technologies have their own benefits and limitations, whether its cost, aesthetic etc.

We encourage you to look more into this space to understand which options best suit your project. You can research the popular AR technologies like Aurasma, Blippar™ (used by Franklin Web) and Documobi’s iPR  (Digital Press uses it). This one is something quite revolutionary because you can create a digital experience with a piece that has already been printed. So it doesn’t need to be included in the design stages like with AR/IR. Here’s some real life examples from the retailers and companies that have developed/utilised these technologies:

Coles – has a Christmas edition of their free in-store magazine with QR codes throughout. They link to videos featuring Curtis Stone, their brand ambassador, doing everything from showing you how to speed up your crab picking or prepare deliciously light savoury puffs. On last visit, the savoury puffs had a whopping 7326 views!

Gram – is a popular food culture publication that uses tags (much like QR codes) to link their stories to further online content and imagery by the blogger featured in the newspaper. You’re also invited to comment on the story by scanning the code.

Tesco the UK supermarket giant, has done a great job of delivering AR to the masses. Scanning their print ads brings the page to life. You can download daily recipes, discounts, find your nearest store, access to articles and more.

Blippar™ and ShortList magazine – This magazine is amazing (watch video above). You hold your device up to the cover in blippar mode and you can blipp to play classic computer game Chuckie Egg from the front cover, find pages where you can blipp to watch videos, buy, vote as well as many other pages where you can find extra content.

ASOS the hugely popular online retailer, used AR with their print mag which is sent to over 450,000 readers. They know their readers love fashion, their mobiles and the mag, so they created a ‘Scan to shop’ experience like digital treasure hunts, exclusive offers and the chance to instantly buy pieces.

IKEA – their 2013 catalogue is going to be an AR experience. They’ve created their own app you can download. By scanning selected pages, you unveil films, photo galleries and interactive experiences.

BMW Australia – created a unique book for new BMW owners, using AR and IR (the thumbnail pic for the Fetch Newsletter story was taken from the book). You can scan for video content, a 3D car and one page even starts with the rumble of an engine which then makes the device tremble at the same time. Search our website for ‘BMW’ to read more about this amazing project.

GRAPH EXPO 2012 – is held in America and is one of the largest displays of ‘live’ running print equipment. Deborah Corn hosted a booth – ‘The Printerverse™’which included the first interactive message board called GRAPHitti™ using iPR technology. Participants had their photo taken in the Kodak booth, then a video was made about them. The photo was pinned up on the wall and using iPR, it linked to the video content. Deb tells us that the students who visited the booth pretty much went insane over iPR and many mentioned how they were excited about print again.

Banana Republic a fashion label, released a QR code campaign that links the code, printed on a wine bottle, to music, style tips and food/wine recommendations.

That’s great but why would I use it?
We’ve only scratched the surface here but it’s clear these new technologies offer the best of both worlds – the tangibility of print and the possibilities the online world brings. As a printer or designer, there are plenty of reasons why you could get involved (other than the fact it’s inevitable the world is moving to a more digitised format). One of the main reasons is that it provides more value for customers like access to more content, good for times when space doesn’t allow, like on packages. Imagine being able to send the user to their travel destination with a digital experience as they’re reading a brochure! Point is, AR, IR, QR, iPR all add another level to the relevancy of the printed medium. Increasingly, the full, rich experiences and interactions a brand and/or company can deliver is going to set them apart. Just remember (it’s something we have read many times), provide credible, valuable content and not just feel good experiences (even though there is a place for that too).

If we had to rate our excitement right now, it’s about an 11 out of 10! We’ll keep adding to this discussion as time goes on so stay tuned for more content and interviews with people utilising these new technologies. We’ll also cover Near Field Communications in our next post.