While attending Print17 – Graph Expo in Chicago earlier this year I learned new information about print strategy and Augmented Reality through a Learning Experience session co-led by Cindy Walas and Kevin Keane.  Cindy spent close to 30 years as a print production director before forming her own consulting company.  Kevin has run organizations in the global graphic arts for 30 years, is an attorney and an expert in the field of interactive print.  They describe themselves as print protaganists and we like those kind of people!

Their presentation in Chicago on new ways to keep print relevant impressed upon me that they have a lot of knowledge about what is a new frontier for print designers and print providers. I asked if they would share a summary of recent trends and possibilities that might be just around the corner in the world of interactive print. Here are their thoughts:

Connected Print Through the Looking Glass – a look back at 2017 and a glimpse into 2018

Starting with Pokemon Go in the summer of 2016, Augmented Reality seemed to finally capture the imagination of the public and businesses alike, with many more companies and brands jumping on board in 2017.

Augmented Reality for Retail

There was AR for shopping, with the furniture, clothing, groceries and cosmetic sectors leading the way. The Gap created virtual dressing rooms. Wal-Mart utilized AR campaigns for movie and game releases (the latest being Wonder Woman interactive displays and video jackets.) Lancome, Estee Lauder and L’Oreal added AR product demos via Modiface and other platforms.

Other retail stores moved into in-store Beacon tech and shoppable window displays.

There was AR for car manufacturers as Ford, Fiat, Jaguar, Genesis and more utilized it for interactive product demos, test rides and owner’s manuals.

Print Strategy and Augmented Reality

Print magazines were not left behind. Porter continued to make every page of every issue scannable and shoppable. The New Yorker, Elle, Sports Illustrated and W Magazine published special issues featuring AR/Connected Print. Packaging and labeling utilized Connected Print, QR codes and RFID to promote authenticity and anti-counterfeit measures.

In addition to Google, Samsung, Facebook, Microsoft and more jumping on the bandwagon, the biggest news was Apple’s ARKit native application via its newest iOS software version and iPhone models. IKEA uses ARKit tech for its latest catalogs, and Amazon just announced that it is adding an AR shopping feature, also based on ARKit, to its iOS app.

What might the future hold in 2018? Smart money may be on smartglasses replacing smartphones. Magic Leap, Apple and Snapchat are pointing in that direction, with attractive designs that could supersede today’s clunky head-mounted displays.

Dr. Helen Papagiannis, in her new book, Augmented Human, believes that Augmented Reality, wearable technology, and the Internet of Things (IOT) are really all about human augmentation, and they are coming together to create a new reality that will forever change the way we experience the world.

We need to take the focus away from the technology and instead emphasize the human experience. It should be about a new sensory awareness, deeper intelligence, and heightened interaction with the world and everyone in it.

The Opportunities of Augmented Reality and Print Strategy

AR native apps will continue to proliferate, but there are pros and cons. Native app functions will make it much easier for users to get on board. Cons – at what cost to brands? How will you communicate, market and protect your brand? More importantly, with the big corporations in control, what happens to all your data? Who really owns it?

Sensory print should not be forgotten in all the current hype. Connected or #InterActivePrint adds a new dimension to a traditional print piece by turning it into multi-media, moving seamlessly from print to digital and back again. It is a powerful tool that the print community needs to embrace. Not as a gimmick, but as a solution that creates engagement and entertainment.

More Augmented Reality and Print Strategy to come as the new year approaches…

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