April 15, 2016 Adriana Rehbein

Augmented/Virtual Reality & Publishing

By Aaron Sammut, Art Director

The launch of the Oculus Rift this month and Microsoft’s Hololens on the way and several other players in the AR/VR space, signifies a tremendous step forward. This type of integrative technology, which is still very much in its infancy but still incredible exciting, has the ability to effect change across a seemingly endless number of industries; healthcare, sports, travel, music, movies, games and it will revolutionise every form of communication… it will make the impossible virtually possible.

But what does it mean for publishing and print?

Print has been a mainstay for knowledge and entertainment for a long time and has had some competition in the form of radio, TV and the internet. Print publishing has lost ground and we’ve had to innovate to stay relevant to an ever changing audience and their evolving habits.

The future is bright for publishing if we can learn from our mistakes during the “print is dead” years brought on by the internet. The problem will be looking at AR/VR not as a fad or a threat, but rather an opportunity to approach a broader audience in a new way.

The exciting thing about AR/VR is that the options are endless. Virtually you could do anything; fly, ride a dinosaur, travel to a disaster area on a VR news channel, or be front and centre at Wimbledon as the action is unfolding. I don’t know exactly what this means for publishing yet but, just off the top of my head… imagine reading a travel magazine, being prompted to put on your headset and an icon starts a virtual reality drop outside of earth’s atmosphere and you land in the middle of a street in Venice, with the audio providing you additional content or maybe just the sound of the street. Or maybe augmented reality is the path – imagine reading a children’s book where the characters are animating on the book, or a product can be seen in 3-dimensions right in front of you – not just 2D or reliant on unreliable phone apps.

Keep in mind this technology has only just arrived. It will evolve, become better, headsets will be less cumbersome and smart publishers will be starting to think how they can benefit from this new technology. At the moment VR is being confined to movies and video games but the future is going to be stranger than (science)fiction.

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