Printed media scanner apps

Paper and ink are the unbeaten leaders in transporting information, news and facts to the people all around the globe. But today, the transition from print to digital media is going on. Today, the digital content is personalized and depends on the location of the consumer [1]. And, especially on the internet, for the consumer it is easy to get further facts about a topic in less clicks. That is something, what print media cannot serve with because they are static [2]. With the use of augmented reality, print media can be enriched with additional facts and multimedia content.

Augmented Reality makers brings the paper to life

With the use of augmented reality, static papers come back to life. Additional content can be displayed by the reader with the smart phone by scanning a marker. Makers can be, for example, a special sign (a QR code) or an image and must be scanned with a special tracking software or app. A marker should have some special characteristics like the form, the colors, the position or a unique identification symbol [3]. The software or app reads the data content from the marker and open the corresponding data source from the internet or the local in-app database. The additional content is now visible for the reader on his smart phone and gives him a link to more information or plays a video corresponding to the text that he is reading. Markers and the corresponding apps gives static papers the chance to be a bit dynamic and that gives printed media much more possibilities.

Smart phone scanners for augmented media content

Mobile augmented reality scanner applications are available in two kinds. These two kinds called AR Browser or AR App. But there are some important differences between these two kind of augmented reality scanner applications.

AR Browsers are apps like Wikitude, Layar, Junaio, Aurasma or BlippAR. These apps can link scanned markers to the content of many different content providers. A content provider is usually a company who want to advertise or present products or news. The content provider has to pay the AR Browser provider, that his content is available in the AR Browser application. The AR development kits (SDK) are normally also not free to use and to create the content. The user has to download the AR Browser to get access to the content of a specific content provider. That bad thing is, that AR Browsers do not have any standards like a web browser. Each AR Browser works with different technologies to bring the augmented reality content to the user [2].

An AR App is developed for a specific purpose. That could be to deliver additional facts or information for a specific product or for a specific topic. For example, the Lego 3D catalog app can only be used for scanning content from the actual Lego catalog. An AR App could work also with offline-content (like images, texts, videos), so the user does not need internet access in contrast to an AR Browser. The disadvantages of this offline availability is, that an AR App could need much more disk space than an AR Browser [2].

Examples of AR Browser implementations

The following examples gives an idea how AR Browsers works. To show how that the given examples works, you have to download the appropriate app from the Apple iTunes, Google Play Store or Microsoft Store.

Augmented reality commercials with BlippAR [4]

Download the BlippAR app (iOS, Android, Windows) and scan with the app one of the following images. The BlippAR scanner “blipps” (scans) the image and present additional content.

Behind the “Lucky Charms” image is a game to play. To see and play that game, scan the image with the BlippAR app. That this image is enriched with augmented reality content is recognizable by the BlippAR sign on the right side.

BlippAR example
BlippAR example “Lucky Charms” [5]
Note: This presented image come from the BlippAR showroom. There are much more such examples available. It is possible, that some “blipps” can only be viewed within specific regions.

Papers and commercials with LayAR [6]

The LayAR app works similar like BlippAR. The LayAR app scan an image or a page and shows additional information to the scanned topic. For the following example the LayAR app is necessary (iOS, Android).

An example for the use of the LayAR app is the 2015 annual report from the car company Audi. This report is available digital and printed. In the report it is written on page 8, that the LayAR app can be used on several pages with a special mobile phone sign to view extra content information. Example of augmented pages in the report are page 24, page 31, page 91, page 106 or page 109. The list of the pages with additional content is not completely.

Open this link for the Audi 2015 annual report as PDF document.

The next example is an advertising about the tourism in Ohio. Scan the image with the LayAR app and the app shows a video and further tourism facts about Ohio.

LayAR example about Ohio Tourism
LayAR example about Ohio Tourism [7]
Note: This image about Ohio tourism come from the LayAR inspiration page. On the page, there are much more examples [7].

Examples of AR Apps implementations

The difference between AR Apps and AR Browsers (like LayAR and BlippAR) is, that AR Apps only support one product or one brochure. The user need for that product a special app. The next example comes from the well know Lego company. The 2016 catalog contains augmented reality Lego models, presupposed that the reader has the Lego app (iOS, Android) installed on his mobile phone.

The online Lego catalog is here available. Open it in a new browser tab, download and install the Lego app (iOS, Android) on the smart phone and scan the pages in the catalog with the yellow Lego brick (for example page 28, page 44, page 66, page 84, page 110, page 124).

How that it works with a physical paper Lego catalog shows the following video:

The value chain for augmented reality enriched print medias

Especially in the marketing and communication domains has the use of augmented reality an impact. For the augmented reality enrichment of a printed media like a catalogs or a brochures, in contrast to normal paper media, there are more parties like a 3D agency or an augmented agency involved. How that the value network could be shows the figure below. This figure is created with images from and in dependence on Santana J. (2010) [8].

Augmented Reality Marketing Value Network
Augmented Reality Marketing Value Network [8]

For the printed media, augmented reality is a chance to combine paper and multimedia contents. Papers with enriched content has an added value for the reader. Also for companies augmented reality advertising is interesting because the augmented media is able to tells much more about a product than a normal poster can do.

But today, augmented reality is not well known by the readers or users of a smart phone. Perhaps in the future, news papers writes only a short management summary and the reader gets his detailed information by scanning the article. It could be, but it do not have to.

[1] Standards for AR with Print: Call for a New Initiative, Ch. Perey, Online Source: [15.04.2016]
[2] B. Furht (2011), Handbook of Augmented Reality, Springer: New York
[3] A. Mehler-Bicher, L. Steiger (2014), Augmented Reality – Theorie und Praxis, De Gruyter: Oldenburg
[4] BlippAR – Online Source: [17.04.2016]
[5] BlippAR Showroom – Online Source: [17.04.2016]
[6] LayAR – Online Source: [17.04.2016]
[7] LayAR Examples – Online Source: [17.04.2016]
[8] J. Santana (2010) Finding the Nexus of Business, Technical and User Needs in Building a Commercially Viable Mobile Augmented Reality (Thesis). Online-Source: [17.04.2016]

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