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Aurasma brings augmented reality to Algonquin

BY AARON L. POPE

Imagine sitting down with your morning cup of coffee while you are reading the newspaper and you see a story about a celebrity having a wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet at the Oscars. Now imagine you can watch a video of the incident on the actual newspaper in your hands.

Get comfortable, because this is happening.

The advertising program at Algonquin is partnering with the British company Aurasma, in a mission to bring a new multimedia tool to the Algonquin Times newspaper this spring.

It’s called “augmented reality,” and it’s very likely that we are looking at the new face of print media. Augmented reality, or AR for short, is the process of adding information from cyberspace to real world objects. This is not a simulation of reality, but simply a way of providing additional information in the form of videos, audio files or GPS locations triggered from pictures or objects.

“What I really love about it is that it takes a relatively old medium and breathes new life into it,” says Jayne Van Dusen, the program coordinator for the advertising program.

Once this technology becomes widely employed, the simple act of pointing an Iphone or an Android phone at an object, or a picture, the Aurasma app will trigger any number of relevant augmented reality content. If you look at a building, you may get an internal diagram or the tenant list of a commercial building. If you point your device at a piece of furniture you may be able to find out what it’s called, where you can buy it and how much it costs.

AR has been one of those technological advances that have been floating around computer labs for a couple of years now. Different tools have been invented to aid in the use of AR, such as headbands that sense the object the user is looking at and projects additional information back to the user. But since the advent of powerful smart phones, such as the Iphone and the Android, being easily available to the public, we will begin to see the benefits of AR manifest in the real world.

This new technology could be what is needed to re-vitalize print media and bring young people back to newspapers and magazines rather than strictly getting their news and entertainment from online sources.

“We have a younger demographic that’s used to watching videos from YouTube and going online instantaneously,” says Andrew Gilbank, 20, a second year advertising student at Algonquin College. “When you add that element in with the newspaper, it’s going to make them more relevant to the younger audience.”

This technology can be found in a few places right now, and it is only going to get more popular as it becomes cheaper. As it is now, the app from Aurasma is a free download from the iTunes app store. Unfortunately, for right now if you want to be able to enjoy the benefits of AR, you are going to have to use an Android phone or an Iphone.

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