Cal Poly Helps Reinvent Print by Making it Interactive

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA—02/27/09—Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department is partnering with Goss International to revolutionize the printing industry by making it interactive.

In an ongoing commitment to enhancing the value of printed material to consumers and advertisers, the department works with key corporations to develop strategies to revitalize print in unique ways, said Harvey Levenson, head of the Graphic Communication Department.

Cal Poly’s latest such venture with Goss International uses GossRSVP, a sophisticated computer program that makes print interactive by allowing users to scan an ad or input a code into a handheld device such as cell phone. “The cell phone then provides more information about the item advertised and displays electronic coupons for free or discounted redemptions,” Levenson said. “All the consumer needs to do is go to the store offering the item, display the coupon on the cell phone, and redeem the free or discounted product or service.”

“We are glad to be partnering with Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department in our mission of making print interactive,” says Roger Belanger, director of GossRSVP. “Cal Poly will be an excellent neutral party to use our system, perform tests and case studies, and be a sounding board of the technology for the print industry.”

The implications of this technology are tremendous for newspaper and magazine advertisers, as well as for such commercial printing as brochures, flyers, and direct-mail advertising, Levenson said. “Cal Poly is demonstrating the benefits of GossRSVP as an important step to ‘reinvent’ the value of print as a medium that expands reach and utility when combined with interactive technology such as handheld devices.”

Cal Poly’s student-run experiential laboratory, University Graphic Systems (UGS), has already conducted a successful experiment. “We used GossRSVP during an ‘all UGS meeting’ to give away a Graphic Communication Department T-shirt,” said Ryan Casey, student general manager of UGS. The UGS students “texted-in” a code, and a message was returned notifying them they had entered the contest. The message also had a link to a mobile browser-optimized Web page with information about the T-shirts and included a catalog photo. “At the end of the meeting, we had the software send a notification to the winner,” Casey said.

After that first successful application, UGS printed and hung 375 posters around campus. The posters include a GossRSVP code. When users punch in the code, UGS prices for quick-print items are returned to the user, and the user is automatically entered into a contest for a free wide-format print. Every 25 people who send in the code are winners.

“This is a phenomenal process because it involves ‘mouse click’ technology,” Levenson said. “Anyone with a cell phone can do it. There is no learning curve. We now understand the value-proposition for advertisers wanting to enhance the power and appeal of their ads in newspapers and other printed publications.”

Levenson plans to acquaint local newspapers with GossRSVP. “In the next stage of testing, we are going ask them to test the product with advertisers.

“What is really important,” Levenson said, “is that GossRSVP is technology developed by a printing press manufacturer, Goss International, not by a company from an unrelated industry. It demonstrates how a press manufacturer has insights into how to ‘reinvent’ its process to address 21st century modes of communication.”

About Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department
Founded in 1946, Cal Poly has one of the largest graphic communication programs in the United States ( With over 33,000 square feet of laboratories, Cal Poly continues to advance the educational offerings for students studying printing and imaging management, electronic publishing and imaging, packaging graphics, and design reproduction technology. The department offers a Bachelor of Science degree in graphic communication. In conjunction with Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business, the department offers an MBA with a specialization in document systems management.

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