Give the 'Original Present' This Year
Augmented reality and interactive print are topics that regularly garner enthusiasm in the design, publishing and packaging world. Unfortunately, they don’t get much coverage anywhere else.
The concept is fairly straightforward. Pokémon Go is a stellar example of augmented reality (AR). Download an app onto your smartphone and, suddenly, you can see things that aren’t there.
Augmented reality doesn’t require print, but print can lead you there using image recognition (IR), which, in a nutshell, makes print “clickable.” Something on the printed page uses the camera on a handheld device to trigger a link.
First, a reader must be aware that the printed text or image he/she is reading contains a link that leads to more information. Next, the reader must care enough to download and activate the software needed to read the link. Lastly, the app must be easy to use or the frustrated reader will give up quickly … and permanently.
This technology has promise but is often wasted on gimmicks. Making animated zombies pop out of a beer label is entertaining but it doesn’t make the beer taste any better. Can’t we do better?
That brings us to Bible publisher Tyndale House’s Filament project. Filament is a book and an app, combined with a sharply focused mission.
The book is Tyndale’s flagship New Living Translation of the Bible. Unlike Bibles meant for study, the Filament edition is clean and uncluttered. There is nothing in the printed Bible itself to indicate the presence of augmented reality.
“When you sit down with the Filament Bible, you can simply read the word of God with no distraction,” says Daniel Farrel, senior art director at Tyndale and innovation lead on the Filament project. Farrel elaborates:
“Having designed a number of Study Bibles, the size of the book is always a significant limitation. To fit everything in, we often have to make the type tiny and the pages extra thin and, even at that, the book can be quite large and cumbersome to hold.
“Digital media erases that limitation, but when it comes to reading the Bible, most people still prefer actual ink on actual pages. So Filament is a way to give you the best of both worlds. You get the best reading experience we can give you in print, and more study, devotional and visual content than we could ever fit in a printed book.”
Beneath each page number is a tiny cross. The Filament app uses your phone or tablet’s camera to position itself on the cross, then uses optical character recognition (OCR) to identify the page number. The app then gives three options for further exploration of the content of that page.
Tap “Study” for an introduction, an extensive collection of footnotes, profiles of characters referenced within the chapter and analyses of overarching themes. Tap “Reflect” for devotionals from several well-known inspirational writers. Tap “See” for videos, interactive maps and infographics.
If you want only to read, keep your phone in your pocket and immerse yourself in the reading of the uncluttered text without any distractions.
One of the challenges of AR and IR is persuading the reader to download the app, install it and configure it; all to get to the point of actually using it. In this case, the user has already purchased the Filament Bible specifically with the intention of using the app. The reader is clear on the benefits of the app and willing, in fact eager, to put it to use.
We noted that the print Bible contains almost no supplemental information. The app does not contain the actual Biblical text. The role of both print and digital is clear, with each doing only what it does best.
Looking for a present to give this holiday season? I, of course, always tout the value of print for Christmas gift-giving. This year, consider giving the book that was the very first ever printed, and the bestselling book of all time. Give the book that contains the original Christmas story.
This year, consider giving something that demonstrates how effectively augmented reality, image recognition and interactive print can be implemented with up-to-the-minute technology, using a tried-and-true product that has brought good tidings of great joy to all mankind for thousands of years.
Happy holidays, from Johnson’s World.
Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Copresco in Carol Stream, Ill., is an executive with 40 years of experience in the graphic arts. He founded Copresco, a pioneer in digital printing technology and on-demand printing, in 1987. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.copresco.com