Whether it’s a fashion magazine like Vogue, culture magazines like Vanity Fair, hobbyist magazines like Field & Stream or SkyNews, or specific interest magazines like Playboy or Cosmopolitan… one thing makes them all magazines: words printed on pages. With some slight variation now as words become “printed” on screens.
But that may be changing now. At least somewhat.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are starting to make their ways into every media platform on earth. A lot of people are confused as to what the difference is between them, but it’s actually quite simple. VR completely changes the setting you’re in; allowing you to completely immerse yourself in another setting. A virtual tour of Buckingham Palace, living inside your favourite movie, or being dropped in the middle of your favourite video game.
Augmented Reality, on the other hand, is less dramatic but can be more useful in real life. It’s when you can see the real world in front of you, but with a digital overlay. Being able to control a computer with the swipe of a hand, the pinch of two fingers. Being able to look at a 3D digital object by moving around it. Or catching a Pokemon that appears on the street via your smartphone. This is all AR of one sort or another.
So how can this type of thing change the magazine industry? Well, it’s not an overnight change… and certainly not one that would fit every magazine, but it’s something that, if utilized properly, could completely change the way people experience magazines.
Technological advances in print and photography allowed magazines to begin adding photos in 1901. These days pictures tend to dominate more of the page than the actual articles do, and digital versions of magazines now feature video content embedded right into the page. Just click the play button and there’s a video example of the Met Gala fashion the writer has been describing. Or the video of an extensive interview, the transcript of which would be pages and pages too long to actually print in full. This has become commonplace.
So what about VR and AR?
With VR, a magazine could drop you down into a digital representation of that Met Gala. You could watch Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and Billy Porter strut their stuff for the cameras. Or a magazine like National Geographic could take you to the jungles of Africa, where you could see an elephant up close and personal. Or Interview Magazine could sit you across from Michelle Obama as she talks about her new book.
It wouldn’t even involve one of those massive, multi-thousand dollar headsets that are being built (mostly for video games). A lot of companies have been working on turning the mobile phone you already have in your pocket into a full-fledged VR device. You slip it into a lightweight, cost-effective headpiece, and you’re five feet away from the former first lady.
AR is a bit less robust, but more affordable. Using the same technology as mentioned above, you can have someone presenting your article with live, interactive charts, stats, images, and video.
This isn’t even a theoretical, future technology anymore. It’s here, and already being used by multiple website publications. At Inovva, we even have someone with experience in VR work. So physical magazines could include a QR code to access the content, while their digital editions could give direct access to it! You can even include something akin to Google Cardboard with the physical issue.
Of course, this wouldn’t work for every magazine on the market. But for the ones whose content would fit this new technology… It could be a real game changer. For the first time, making reading a magazine a truly active, not passive, experience.