Like something out of Rowling’s World of Wizardry, moving images in newspapers have become a reality — only this time it’s thanks to the magic of technology.
It might seem intimidating to those not technically savvy, but it’s really quite simple if you follow the instructions of Lake Report owner and editor-in-chief Richard Harley, and also quite remarkable – even magical.
The Lake Report has become one of the first papers in the country to regularly introduce “augmented reality” content, allowing readers of the community newspaper to use their phones or tablets to watch videos in the paper.
All you need to do is use your phone’s camera to scan the images, and they come to life.
If it’s hard to imagine, it’s likely because the technology is simply so new.
It’s actually more difficult to explain than it is to use, once you decide to give it a try.
Quickly explained, said Harley, the technology is similar to QR codes, using what is often called a “trigger image.”
That image, similarly to a QR code, can be recognized by an “AR lens,” which is your phone.
The trigger image can be almost anything, for example a picture in a newspaper, and the AR lens is generally a cellphone or tablet.
Once the trigger image is recognized by your camera lens, it initiates an action, typical in the form of 3D images and animations, video overlays and still images.
There are a number of augmented reality apps emerging as more uses for the technology are found, and as the concept becomes widely familiar.
The Lake Report uses an app called HP Reveal, which is relatively easy to operate. It’s similar to Facebook, in that if a user is following another person’s profile, they can see that person’s content.
To make it work, simply download the app on your phone or tablet and follows the paper’s channel (Niagara Now).
Currently TLR has put out two issues with augmented reality videos and Harley plans on doing a lot more with it in the future, including introducing new options to merge the realms of print and digital advertising.
It’s “cutting-edge,” said Harley.
“I don’t know of many other papers that are doing this, at least not as regularly as The Lake Report.”
Harley said he hopes to get more and more people using the app and following the paper’s channel, noting that once it’s set up, it doesn’t require any maintenance.
“It just works … and it’s something that will impress your friends, or show your kids you’re up to speed with the latest technology.”
Harley said the paper intends to experiment with HP Reveal in a variety of ways, such as on the paper’s games page so people can get the answers to the crossword puzzle and sudoku early, as well as using it to add an element to articles.
He even mentioned a potential “scavenger hunt” based on the app, in which people would hunt through the paper to find hidden videos.
“There’s a lot to explore with this technology. And once people are a little more used to it, I think it’s going to be a big part of our everyday lives.”
He said he foresees a future where you can turn on the augmented reality feature in your glasses and view the world through a new lens.
At that point, it really could be like reading the Daily Prophet (the newspaper in Harry Potter), he said, adding he thinks it could lead to a resurgence in the popularity of print material.
“It changes the medium entirely,” Harley said.
“I think people could wind up looking to print to get the most out of this technology. I know it’s something that everybody I’ve shown has thought was fairly incredible.”