HERE’S an experiment. Look at this page: you see text and pictures juxtaposed in a hopefully pleasing way. Now look at it through an app on your phone or tablet: if the technology works, the page now has a hole cut in it, with a video of the Tour de France route playing inside.
It’s not a hologram, it’s augmented reality – or so the developers would have you believe. They are Hewlett-Packard, makers of expensive printer cartridges and now evangelists for Aurasma.
The big idea is that “auras” created with the system can unlock hidden content on all manner of static objects: the wall of a building, an advert at a bus stop, or, as in this case, a printed page. The previously private material is then displayed in situ, as if it belonged there.
The Yorkshire Post has harnessed the technology as part of its coverage of the Grand Départ. Some of our supplements have carried a logo to denote the presence of extra material when viewed as an aura. If you’d like to try it out, here’s how. First, visit your usual app store and download the free Aurasma app on to your Apple or Android phone or tablet. Once loaded, it switches on your phone’s camera, ready to look for “trigger” content such as this page. But before you can “see” it, you need to find The Yorkshire Post’s Aurasma channel and follow it. The “A” logo at the bottom of the screen reveals the search function and other menus. Now, when you click the viewfinder icon and hover over the page, it comes alive. The video remains in its designated cut-out and even changes perspective as you move the screen around.
It is advertisers to whom the augmented reality idea will most appeal. Film distributors, for instance, can embed a trailer within a movie poster, and perhaps a link to a ticket website. And adverts on the bus can suddenly come to life as you while away the journey.
Whether the technology will gravitate to the mainstream depends on the number of adopters. The fact that HP has yet to encounter any serious competition suggests the rest of the industry is sceptical; but that’s what they once said about the iPad.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to watch the rest of The Yorkshire Post’s video coverage of this weekend’s race, you can do so without special technology by visiting yorkshirepost.co.uk/video.