The December 2009 issue of Esquire magazine is more than reality. It’s augmented reality. The talented developers at The Barbarian Group and the designers at Psyop collaborated to create editor in chief, David Granger’s latest editorial experiment.
The technology ties the print publication to an online experience. The user must download software from the Esquire website in order to experience the AR publication. Once the software is installed markers printed on the cover and inside the magazine can be read by a webcam.
The magazine has various types of content. The cover of Robert Downey, Jr. serves as an overview of the AR issue as well as a promotion for his upcoming movie, Sherlock Holmes. Inside the issue the content ranges from audio, animation, and a slideshow.
I’m not sure I’d want to read/experience an entire magazine by holding it up to my computer until my arms tire, but then again, I read comics, twitter streams, and facebook updates on a 3″ screen. As reported in a recent Adweek article AR will appear in future issues of Esquire in 2010.
Of course the question must be asked. Is it the future of publishing or a gimmick to get consumers to spend money on a medium that is dying?