5 Exciting Examples Of Augmented And Virtual Reality In Print

Augmented and virtual reality has made its way into the print industry since 2016. At our last drupa trade show, it was still a future technology to watch, but by now, it has established a strong foothold in our industry. With these five examples or AR and VR in print, we want to show you why we are so fascinated by the options these technologies provide.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been much-anticipated technologies in the print industry for many years. We ourselves have written many articles on this blog about these innovative technologies and watched them become less “future technologies to watch” and more of a staple instrument, many companies already rely on to communicate their message and present their products to customers.

A Short History Of AR And VR In Print

Back in 2017, with games like Pokémon Go becoming unavoidable, we made augmented reality the topic of our Future Links CW 28. Since then, a lot has happened! 2017’s eye-catching virtual reality video ads are still interesting to watch but with the fast advancements in the area long outdated. Do you remember CloudLab’s big success story at #drupa2016? Even back then, their CEO Marc Horriar was convinced that “artificial intelligence will be the next big thing” for our industry.
When the global pandemic brought everything to a halt earlier this year, print museums relied on virtual reality to still be able to pass on their gathered knowledge to visitors and let them take a virtual tour right in their living rooms.

#1: Google Sodar

With its latest project, Google addresses a very current issue for the global society: In the COVID-19 world, social distancing is an ever present issue in everyone’s everyday life. With their new technology Google Sodar, they are aiming to make keeping the advised distance from 2 metres, or at least six feet, between people easier. The new tool from Google lets you visualize exactly how far you stand from another person and works as a technical aid in these turbulent times. As a web app, Google Sodar takes advantage of augmented reality to see the distance between to another. Google Sodar works through the Google Chrome browser and relies on a technology called WebXR. The app can be seen as one of Google’s experimental sections and is not yet available for the public release. 

#2: AR As A Marketing Opportunity

In the digital age, print is facing a rising amount of obstacles and resistance to a medium, many people seem to find “outdated”. Especially when it comes to advertising and marketing, print doesn’t possess the dominant market power it once used to. But what if the answer to the struggle isn’t switching to a new medium but just enhancing the one we already offer with digital content? One interesting possibility is once again AR! With the technology, it is easy to turn printed advertising into captivating content that won’t be thrown into the trash quite that quickly. 

genARate, for example, is a flexible, cloud-based solution to add a little more to your offering and bring your print material to life. The tool requires no programming skills – it simply layers digital content like videos, animations or 3D models on top of your print. Consumers can interact with your digital content with their mobile devices and let your click-through- and conversion-rates rise. This way, you create a lasting impression with potential customers.

#3: Wikitude

In 2019, Wikitude helped brands like Jack Daniel’s, TUI and Ford conquer the print industry and opened a whole new world of creative options for the printing and packaging industry. With their app, the startup company from Salzburg created an easy way to incorporate augmented content like videos, slideshows, sound, text, panoramas and 3D animations, with only a simple 2D-printed AR trigger. They are using a location-based approach, reading the scanned object’s position with the GPS and compass of the device to calculate the motion sensor.

The whiskey brand Jack Daniel’s. for example, used the technology for an introduction into the history and development of the label. Every consumer has the option to enter the world of Jack Daniel’s with 10 minutes of material from the manufacturing of the liquor to the distillery and the history of the company. All thanks to a printed label and the genius idea of bringing AR into the mix.

#4: Travel

Travel is another area where AR and print are a natural match. In the 21st century, we are used to having everything at our fingertips – and there’s no difference when it comes to travel. Who would go and buy a travel magazine to plan a trip anymore, if the internet already has all the information right there with nice pictures and videos. The option to scribble in a magazine to plan your trip, take notes and discuss it with your family over the dinner table just can’t hold up to that. That is, until you bring AR to the mix!
With AR as an added feature to your printed material, you can have everything you want to know and see right there in the magazine. Adding a video of the place you’re just looking at on the page, to feel the atmosphere or simply get a better impression of the area. Include more pictures than you were able to fit on the pages. You could even link a video describing travel options, therefore sparing your customers the bothersome internet search for other options or trip to the local travel agency completely.

poppr is one of the developers who provide a multitude of options for digital enhancements for many industries. You might find some inspiring projects on their website.

The global tourism company TUI has started its own ventures into augmented reality earlier last year, with a trial period for augmented excursions on Mallorca in January of 2019. Tourists were able to explore the cities and points of interest on the island individually with stereoscopic AR glasses. Everything that usually needed to be provided in a guided tour or a guidebook can be excessed on demand and appear right in front of the user’s eyes. The tour includes not only information but also photographs, videos and even 3D models.

#5: Christoph Niemann’s 2016 New Yorker Innovators Issue Cover

This might be an old story but its originality and pioneer status, we still felt like it had to be included on this list: the New Yorker’s 2016 Innovators Issue cover. Christoph Niemann created an augmented reality cover that allowed readers looking at the illustration with a mobile device to enter a three-dimensional animation of New York’s iconic cityscape with an app specifically made for that purpose. In his cover story, the artist explained his idea to make his work an AR experience:

“If you create a world on paper, you create a window. Usually, you just break the surface with your mind, but you always have the feeling of: What if you could step into that world or if something could come out of it?”

AI, AR And VR – The Future Of The Print Industry

And augmented and virtual reality aren’t the only future technologies that keep gaining a foothold in printing: Artificial Intelligence (AI) also becomes increasingly more important. In packaging, robotics and AI have been a staple for a while. When it comes to 3D printing, many companies already rely on AI to optimize their workflow, Esquire Singapore even used an AI as an editor in 2019 testing machine creativity, proving AI, AR and VR to be much more than just a tool for workflow automation.

There are a few things every brand needs to know before expanding into the fastly evolving field of augmented reality. Are you already working with augmented or virtual reality yourself? Or are you planning on expanding into that area?