June 5th, 2012 by Michael Zimmermann
An interesting bit of tech surfaces every once in a while that tries to link print and digital worlds. The latest is Layar, which is bit like enhanced reality, a bit like a glorified QR code. They have a slick video to showcase its use in very clean environment.
Take out your mobile device and point it at an icon on the page of a magazine, and a richer experience ensues, such as a video that plays on the cover, or a link to a purchase page, etc.
Part of that is a step into the right direction as far as integration goes, especially with social media integration, such as ‘liking’ a page on facebook, and the ability to link directly to subscribe pages and products/advertising destinations.
At the same time, I’m always struck by how gimmicky most of it is. We’ve seen attempts like this in the past, however, with products like the [CueCat](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CueCat). This is not a problem specific to Layar, just to the overall approach.
Let’s face it, how comfortable is watching a video in a little (shaky!) box inside your already-small phone screen?
Besides that, you’ve got to juggle holding the phone at an angle to view the screen while pointing it at the magazine… well, you get the picture. Imagine someone on a streetcar with a magazine and a phone with headphones… Throw in a baby, purse, grocery or laptop bags and the other things that a typical commuter might have, and it’s a nightmare. At home, how comfortable is it to curl up with a magazine and go through that same dance on the couch?
On top of all of that, the reader needs to download a third-party proprietary app on only iPhone or Android for any of this to work.
How willing are you to hold your mobile device in one place as you interact with your magazine?