As predictions roll out for which technologies will be shaping the future of the media industry, a recurring theme we’re seeing is the growth of augmented reality, known as AR.
Popularised by mobile applications such as Pokémon Go and Snapchat, AR adds digital elements to your live view through your device’s camera, allowing you to “see” what your eyes can’t.
But the potential for AR goes beyond games and entertainment. There is huge potential for the technology to enhance the experience of readers of traditional forms of media such as magazines and newspapers.
News Corp Australia launched its News Alive AR experience for iPhone in 2018. Head of content innovation and strategic partnerships Zac Skulander said, “We see News Alive as furthering the newspaper experience. It will add another dimension to stories, giving our editors and journalists an opportunity to explain what happened behind the scenes or provide breaking news updates.”
“For clients, it will be an opportunity to use 3D holograms to showcase their car, hotel, home, or lounge suite.”
“Bringing the company’s cricket coverage in our printed newspapers to life through AR was just the start and has taken the consumer experience of reading the cricket news in our newspapers to a new level.”
Why do users love to experience AR?
There’s a certain delight that comes with your first experience of AR. Seeing your photo suddenly transformed with a smart filter, or watching magical creatures seemingly integrated into the real world around you echoes the wildest dreams of science fiction writers of the late 20th Century. But AR is also a highly emotive technology, sparking feelings of fun, surprise, joy, or even fear.
AR is also immersive and has a slightly addictive quality to it. Put a child in front of an AR screen and they will be amused for hours, giggling in delight as they see their face or surroundings change through digital magic.
AR also can show you products and ideas in ways that can’t be done by other media. Yes, a paper catalogue can give you an idea of what a new sofa looks like, but the IKEA augmented reality catalogue puts the sofa in your living room.
One of the main drivers of the increasing relevance of AI is the ubiquity of smartphones: Deloitte’s 2018 Mobile Customer Survey found that 89% of surveyed Australians own a smartphone, up from 88% in 2017 and 84% in 2016. The survey also revealed our increasing usage of these devices for entertainment, communication and tracking our lives through fitness and health apps.
AR is unlikely to be going away anytime soon and offers significant opportunities for publishers.
Will AR change the way that we consume news media? Will it reshape product advertising? Only time will tell, but we will be keeping a close eye on this trend to see where it takes us.