There is something peculiar and dramatic about the latest issue of SZ magazine from the trail blazing German Newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ). Unbeknownst to many of the 550,000 strong household readerships who will receive this today, the magazine courts print media with the augmented reality (AR) technology to transform what appears to be a traditional print media into an immersive augmented reality experience when viewed through an iPhone, Android or any suitable smartphone that is camera-equipped.
The issue numbered 33 of the SZ magazine will go down in the annals of AR history as the first print media publication to fully embrace augmented reality, a just reward for the reputed magazine that always had the knack for producing something uncanny. The technology firm behind the effort is Metaio, a German AR developer more known for their junaio augmented reality platform for camera equipped 3G and 4G Mobile device.
In order to experience all of the augmented reality features found in this special SZ Magazine, users are required to download the free junaio augmented reality browser from either the iTunes store or the Android marketplace, and then proceed to activate relevant channels relating to the augmented reality overlay.
Once armed with the right smartphone and having activated SG Channels, the magic is ready to unfold. In the cover of the magazine, popular TV talk show host and journalist Sandra Maischberger is seen hiding her face behind hands. This “Real” world is soon transformed into an “Augmented Reality” world, thanks to the augmented reality overlays viewed through the smartphone camera, where Sandra can now be seen uncovering her face to reveal a happy smile.
As we turn pages there are more encounters of the AR kind, the first one we stumble onto is the "interview without words" where the European Song contest winner Lena Meyer-Landrut is expressing jibes and remarks that appear amazingly as bubble texts in the augmented view. As we go further inside the magazine, the popular Axel Hacke column is seen activating a brilliant 3D animation. As we wind up, we experience something more novel and useful as staff of the SZ Magazine present their favourite spots in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin in a virtual city guide. Readers from those cities are able to use the smartphone to see the augmented reality view in which they will have markers pointing out to restaurants, clubs and hotels in their vicinity.
An augmented reality experience on a cover page of a magazine is not exactly a novel concept, Popular Science came up with what they called as “first interactive 3-D augmented reality magazine cover” in their July 2009 issue in which a PC equipped with webcam was used in conjunction to see the augmented view of the cover, and couple of months later Esquire followed suit with a similar spectacle. However those efforts pale in comparison to the effort by SG Magazine which has used augmented reality throughout the publication and not just on the cover, and more importantly, has taken the reader to a new realm of quality journalism merged with augmented reality overlay view from camera equipped smartphone for an unforgettable and rich sensory experience.
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