F rom science-fiction to science-fact: New technology brings print to life

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Sean McGoey Mar 8, 2013

File this one under: Whaaaaaaat?!?

Perhaps one of the strangest elements of this era has been the shift of science-fiction to science-fact; ten years ago, the interactive tablet was a far-fetched prop on Star Trek. Now, we’re seeing digital technologies like hand-held tablets become not only part of every day life, but also expand our minds and capabilities beyond our sci-fi fantasies.

A new mobile app called Layar is merging the physical and digital in the most unexpected of ways. Fans of Harry Potter may recall the books and newspapers that came to life in the magic world, the photographs in the pages that would move and speak to the reader. Load up the Layar app on the cell phone, and you’ve got a real-life Harry Potter moment.

Layar amps up the concept of QR codes, which made static content interactive, and it does so with startling elegance. Utilizing Augmented Reality technology, Layar allows the reader to use their phone as a magic mirror of sorts, revealing interactive media content on the display when they hover their phone’s webcam over certain pre-coded physical print objects. And who says print is dead?


Image via Layar.com


Because a video is worth a thousand words, check it out in action below:

According to the app’s website, Layar isn’t just for developers: “No developers, no software, no QR codes… no pain! Activate your print by simply dragging and dropping interactive buttons into position.”

While we have yet to try Layar, and see if it’s everything it seems to be, it definitely seems like an exciting and unexpected step into the future. It could also serve as a great tool for those in the print industry who are the first to get the axe when it comes to tightening marketing budgets.

What do you think? Is Layar something you can see yourself using on your print products, or is it too oblique of a concept, and destined to become obsolete in a few years like QR codes? Let us know in the comments below!

h/t Notes on Design

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