Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Augmented Reality Re-visited

Shaylan Owen and the Herald Times Bloomington in Indiana
The Herald Times began using Aurasma, Aug. 27, 2012, and have reached 1,500 Android and iPhone downloads since its launch.

Last week, we posted an article that introduced our readers to augmented reality. Since augmented reality is such a new concept, we decided to contact a newspaper that has started to use augmented reality as part of their advertising and news strategy. So we reached out to the Hoosier Times, more specifically, the Times Herald in Bloomington, Ind., to ask them about augmented reality and how they implemented it. We talked to Shaylan Owen who is their resident expert on augmented reality and the application they use to deliver it, Aurasma. The Herald Times began using Aurasma, Aug. 27, 2012, and have reached 1,500 Android and iPhone downloads since its launch.

Above the Fold: Okay, augmented reality is a relatively new thing. Can you tell us what it is exactly?

Shaylan Owen: Augmented reality is bringing additional data into different realms of whatever medium you’re using. It’s adding something, anything, additional to your environment. For us, we are using it to add additional interest to a static newspaper. We have implemented it in our magazines as well.

AtF: Is that similar to QR codes or applications used to access more information from a static page?

SO: Yes. Aurasma, or the app that we use, uses the camera on your tablet or smartphone to connect to a video that is hosted on the back end of our website. So, what we can do on a newspaper article, if we have video from a story, is take that video and load it on to the backend website. So, if you are reading any of our products and see an icon on the side of a photo, that is the signal that more information about that story can be accessed using the augmented reality application. So, we are now trying to condition our readers to look for the symbol to get that augmented reality experience.

The difference between QR codes and the augmented reality icon is that the QR code is used to take you to a different, yet related, experience. The augmented reality app simply augments or adds too the experience you are already having with the static object. It also gives you more mileage out of your advertising or story space. Instead of having to design in or fit a QR code, the image actually works with the design or story.

AtF: So this allows for newspapers to get back to a cohesive and purposeful design?

SO: Absolutely. QR codes are, in effect, the infancy of augmented reality. The problem is that they take up space.

AtF: Are there specific verticals that you feel that augmented reality more effectively augments?

SO: Well, we have mostly been using Aurasma for news stories, and just started with advertising. However, our first customer with this product was a real estate agent. It makes a lot of sense, seeing as how many of their current websites already have video. We can get the content directly from the person providing it, although the recommended maximum length for a video is two minutes, so they would have to shorten it. We also suggest that advertisers edit down videos to no more than one minute, although that stipulation has more to do with human attention span than functionality.

The other bonus of this technology is the ability to imbed static imagery into the videos as well. So you can use a static image as the trigger — the image used to launch the additional data — and  then finish with another static image with a link that can take you to another site with more information.

AtF: Because Aurasma is an app, as this technology becomes more prominent, will the need for multiple applications be a problem for consumers wanting to harness augmented reality?

SO: Well, there isn’t a lot of competition right now, but Aurasma is the largest and most prevalent.

AtF: So it’s like the Google of augmented reality apps?

SO: Yeah, yeah it is.