The Issue with Augmented RealityBy Steffen • Nov 3rd, 2009 • Category: 26th Story, Technology
Next Monday I’ll be stopping at the Hudson Newsstand in Port Authority to pick up the December issue of Esquire, and not because I need to read up on cummerbunds and weekend watches. As a twenty-one-year-old female, I’m hardly Esquire’s target demographic, but they’ve caught my eye with their upcoming issue featuring augmented reality. And, well, Robert Downey Jr. on the cover also helps. But I want to see augmented reality in action, because it sure looks cool in the videos.
After Esquire announced the new feature last week, posts quickly popped up reviewing the magazine’s execution and asking questions. December will surely see a boost in sales due to people like me buying the magazine for the novelty of the experience, but is this something that will go on to save the print industry? Will people be able to appreciate the need for a webcam to read something in print? Will the cost of AR technology ever be completely offset by ad sales and thus a sustainable feature? Are we creating a future for AR?
It’s important to remember that, while you may be adding a medium, you might not necessarily be adding value. In an OpEd for AgencySpy, Jack Benoff criticized Esquire for using AR as a self-proclaimed gimmick instead of adding any value beyond what could be accomplished online. As far as we can tell, the interactive feature is mostly entertainment based, but Benoff offers one way to take AR to the next, necessary level:
Of course it’s easy to sit here and rip on someone else’s work without providing any real value, so here’s an idea: what if Esquire’s “fashion spread” allowed people to overlay images of an article of clothing on themselves ( for example ties) so that they could match (or in my case, learn how to match) them with their existing wardrobe. Editorial content could provide tips, tricks and insights. Now, that might provide some real value to consumers looking to make a purchase (not to mention the brands that sell those articles of clothing) and would be an execution that could be updated and utilized all year long (that is, Esquire could sell the space to various retailers each and every season).
So while I’ll be picking up the issue to marvel at the AR magic, I would love to see magazines (or even books!) take on augmented reality to engage with the reader and provide valuable interaction.