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Press dives into augmented reality world

By Bob Steenson,

In the Harry Potter series of books and movies, the newspapers, magazines and other printed media of that world contain mystical moving images.

While we don’t yet have the technology — or the magic — to make that a reality in our world, the Charles City Press is now offering advertisers and readers something similar.

Download an app on your smartphone and take a picture of certain advertisements or other images printed in the Press, and a whole new level of information will open up.

Press dives into augmented reality world
CCPress AR target

It could be as simple as a quick, easy link to an advertiser’s website. Or it could be photos, video, audio or even immersive 3D virtual reality.

“There’s a new way to engage with the Charles City Press and the Northeast Iowa Shopper and all their affiliated products, like Redi-Reference, Dining Guide, programs that we print for the school,” said Christopher Hall, Press publisher and owner.

“It’s for anything that’s printed that businesses or organizations want to use to increase engagement with their customers,” he said.

Android or Apple smartphone users can go to their app store now and download the free CCPress AR app.

AR stands for augmented reality, and once the app is installed, users can use it to snap a picture of any printed product that is linked to the system to open up more information on their smartphone.

Press dives into augmented reality world
Christopher Hall

Anything that your phone can deliver — video, sound, websites, photo galleries, even 3D panoramic images — can be accessed quickly and easily just by pointing your phone’s camera at a printed image and clicking.

“While the primary use will be to increase reader engagement for our advertising customers, it also offers exciting opportunities to expand the depth of our news coverage,” Hall said.

“This is a product that mixes digital and print together, creating an incredibly strong media product for the readers of the Charles City Press and the Northeast Iowa Shopper,” he said.

The experience is more immersive and easier than randomly browsing to find information on the web, because digital content is linked to the printed material through the app, allowing quick, easy access simply by taking a photo of any print product that’s linked to the system.

Digital content can be linked to virtually any printed product, Hall said. In addition to items in the newspaper and shopper, that might include placemats, theater or concert programs, business cards, menus, coupons and more.

The Press is planning to host two open houses in the coming months, on Thursday, May 9, for the public to stop by the Press offices and enjoy a snack, talk with the staff and experience the CCPress AR App; and on Tuesday, June 11, for business customers of the Press.

More information on the open houses will be available soon, but the CCPress AR app is ready now to download, and more and more advertising content in the Press and the Northeast Iowa Shopper is being linked to the system.

To test it out, download and install the CCPress AR app and look for the “Press and Freedom of Information Eagle” logo on advertisements. Take a picture of the ad through the app and the additional information will open up.

Linking the print and the digital information worlds offers exciting possibilities for both, Hall said.