Augmented Reality Could Transform Legacy Newspapers Into Video Media

Remember when after reading something of great interest, you daydreamed about the content as if it was a living scenario, whether it was fiction or the daily news. Now with the assistance of Augmented Reality, the content you read will virtually be able to pop off the page and begin speaking to you.

Similar to the Daily Prophet in Harry Potter, the fictionalized newspaper contrived by the imaginings of J.K. Rowlings, newspapers, magazines and book content will soon become visual constructs that will transform before your very eyes.

Within 3 to 5 years, scientists will have developed video newspapers like Harry Potter's Daily Prophet for us mere 'muggles.' Purdue University's David James is one of those modern-day wizards working on technology that could lead to a newspaper that updates itself, complete with moving pictures.

Esquire December issueEsquire December issueAlready available in today's world, Esquire has probably made the most significant foray into integrating augmented reality in their men's magazine, providing a reading experience that effectively comes 'alive.' The magazine's December issue, published in the US by the Hearst Corporation incorporated augmented reality technology into the mag's cover featuring Robert Downey Jr. Here Editor David Granger explains his publication's innovative use of AR that literally makes the content leap off the page.

Taking it one step further, Robert Downey Jr. is seen here walking all over the magazine's latest issue introducing the new technology while promoting his new movie, "Sherlock Holmes."

This was a costly promotion for Esquire but cognizant of its bread and butter, the publishers reached out to their advertisers to help defray costs. At least two of the AR pages of the December issue trigger on-screen ads for Lexus that absorbed some of the expense to underwrite this rather expensive venture.

For those interested, the Esquire Augmented Reality software can be downloaded here.

Other content that can benefit from AR could be public events. For instance, at the upcoming Vancouver Winter Olympics, layers of overlaid data could provide info pertaining to venues like the ski slopes and skating rinks in additional to real-time updates on the performance of the competitors. The IBM Seer Android app that was developed for the Wimbledon 2009 championships will give you an idea how advanced this technology is already.

Global events like the recent Cop15 in Copenhagen or the G20 could be enhanced by AR in delivering information in real-time, explaining the role of the key political figures or the backstory on some of the pertinent issues. In this film clip, Sunlight Labs launched an augmented reality app called the '' mobile app showing where the US government's economic recovery funding was spent. As a side note, it's ironic that the newscaster reporting on this story joked about the merits of the app, even though he was required by Bloomberg News to cover it.

Layering data
and 3-D objects on street scenes viewed through our smartphone cameras gained a lot of traction last year. Its popularity was such that the top AR app developer teams are developing a standard language -called ARML (similar to HTML) to communicate more clearly when using this new digital technology. In the media world, the potential for AR to enrich a story with content descriptors, points of interest markers and real-time data feeds is a whole new terrain for the next generation of journalists to explore.

Perhaps if legacy newspapers took heed and instead of throwing in the towel - invested in augmented reality - they might be able to survive the current downturn in business. In fact, if they were to combine newspaper delivery via eReaders and AR, that combo of technologies might be just the alchemy to reverse their dwindling circulation numbers.

So, for those journalism majors in college right now who think they may have made the wrong decision in selecting this field of study, think again. The brave new world of augmented reality is going to make your profession one of the most enviable and sought-after career choices in this next decade.

For those Harry Potter fans who enjoyed this blog, here is a vid that will permit you to slip back into that world of fantasy, with a look at some of the back issues of the Daily Prophet,  during the darker days of the boy wizard's trials and tribulations...