Augmented Reality for Printed Publications

We’re generally not a company that emphasizes a continuing role for paper (as opposed to epaper) in the future, but we are enthusiastic about some of the Augmented Reality mobile phone applications being developed by the Dutch company Layar for use with newspapers, magazines, signboards.

For example, take at look at this video about using the application with magazines:

Or this more general use of the application:

These apps led one acquaintance myself of ours to declare that the Cuecat scanners, a product released in 1999, was ahead of its time. Maybe so, but that’s like saying the steam-powered automobiles of the 1880-1890s or Leonardo da Vinci‘s drawing of a rudimentary helicopter in the 1480s were ahead of their time. Those might have been ahead of their times, but were inept implementations. Cuecat spanners were dedicated, single-purpose devices that plugged into people’s personal computers. They could be used to gather more information from printed publications only when wired to personal computers and only by reading bar codes printed in those publications. By contrast, Layar’s Vision applications can be used on any multi-purpose ‘smartphone’ (iPhone, Android, etc.), a device which hundreds of millions of people now carry; doesn’t require wiring to a personal computer; and doesn’t require the publication (or anyone else) to print barcodes or QR codes. It’s an idea and an implementation at it’s time.

As a surfing friend once told me, ‘You can’t surf ahead of the wave’s time.’ ¬†Which is why Cuecat went nowhere.


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