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Welcome to rachelsays... The blog of Rachel Lewis, containing my thoughts and musings on illustration, design, fashion, music, cakey-bakey goodness, culture and things that I generally find cool. There's also a good chance my own illustration work will pop up on here.

All work on this blog is copyright to me unless I state that it isn't. Obviously. Don't do stealing, kids.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Grazia Does Augmented Reality

This time last year, Augmented Reality was this hip new buzz word I'd just heard about and it seemed that everyone was whispering 'Is this the future??' in sci-fi voices. It's a groundbreaking piece of technology but a lot of people didn't quite know how to apply it, and brands weren't really sure what it could do for them. Cool for cool's sake, were a lot of people's first thoughts.

Now though, it's really beginning to pick up momentum, and perhaps it's now burst onto the mainstream with this week's Grazia Magazine doing a '3D' (term applied loosely...) issue.

I wrote about Augmented Reality and it's uses in a post I wrote a while back about my Ted Baker project. I (regrettably) never did submit that project to YCN because I got a full time job and that's against the rules :( My idea was great, as well. Yep, genius almost.

Anyway, the example that still stands out is Hugo Boss's augmented reality shop windows:

I liked how the technology takes the image of what you show to it, and manipulates it, moves it around etc, so that it looks like what you are holding is moving in front of you.

When I saw that Grazia were using AR, I assumed it would be a similar thing - hold the page up with all the fashion pieces and the page would come to life in your hands. It's almost that, but not quite. Instead of something like the Lego AR...

...Where the 3D image of the product seems to appear in your hands, instead the webcam/iphone app is activated by the little black and white logo, but then just reverts to a pre-made video which displays the content, with no interaction with your individual copy of the magazine. For example, on the cover, I thought that when you held it up, lovely Florence would dance about within the confines of the cover, weaving through the 150pt type and knocking silly subheadlines away with her mega-voice. But... not really. This is what happens when you hold your cover up:

Not what I was expecting. It's still cool and fun, but not as interactive as I thought.

Also, I don't have an iphone so had to use my imac's camera. The online content delivery bit at is a bit flaky, I've found. I don't know if the app is better, but my cover didn't want to work at all, and when I went to activate the tutorial on creating smokey eyes, it activated the fashion editorial instead =/ Not cool. So perhaps needing a bit of work.

That said, the idea behind it is great and definitely a step forward in bridging the gap between physical fashion magazines and online content - after all, these days you can find out about new trends in an instant - weekly mags seem old within days. I'd like to see this being a permanent feature within the magazine. Get rid of the cover shoot bit- it's nice but flashy and doesn't actually do anything except give models/singers/whoever a platform to prance around on. But the fashion editorial section could really benefit from this.

If they changed the format to be more like the Lego example above, it would be brilliant. I'd love to be able to hold my iphone (future iphone) over any garment/accessory/whatever in the magazine, and it would come into 3D life on my iphone screen - I could rotate it, see what it looks like at all angles - this is especially good for bags. Then there could be a link to buy it straight away online - done. All through the app. This is a solid way of ensuring fashion magazine's relevance in a digital age. Or even simple things like, you've read a really great, interesting article in the magazine, and want to tweet about it straight away - hold the app up to the title, or photo say, and it will automatically tweet a link to the digital article online. Or an extract of it. Things like that would be so great if they were incorporated into Grazia as a normal, weekly thing, instead of a special one-off 'collector's "3D" edition. Cos it's not exactly 3D is it... no yet. Things aren't jumping off the page at me.

I don't even know if AR has the technology to do all this yet; although I'm pretty sure it can; especially with games such as The Hidden Park around. So it's a step in the right direction, and props to Grazia for having the balls to showcase technology like this, it just shows they're a forward-thinking mag. I just hope they expand on it in the future.

Meanwhile, next issue they're doing a big 'Culture Special' focusing on what's cool this spring. Trend hunters, keep an eye out...

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