Yeppar: an augmented reality app that will change newspapers forever
If Pokemon Go has taught us anything, it's that reality is now passe. Augmented reality (AR) is where it's at. This technology, bridging the virtual and real worlds, is changing the way we interact with our surroundings. And while Niantic, the developers of Pokemon Go, are using it to revolutionise gaming, Rams Creative, a small tech start-up in Jaipur, is using AR to change the world of news.
The death of print news
Over the last decade or so, the world of news has evolved at a breakneck pace. The internet has changed everything. From the very style of journalism, to revenue models and advertising formats, the internet has turned the news world on its head.
The biggest loser though, has been the print medium which can't compete with the pace and dynamism of the internet, or the sheer loudness and visibility of television. While newspapers have moved into the online space as well, the profitability that came with a captive, paying newspaper readership is a thing of the past.
Readers are ditching papers for mobile news. Advertisers are going to Google for far cheaper options, and competitors offering free content means online subscription is a long shot. Newspapers seem destined for extinction. But not if Yeppar, an AR offering from Rams Creative, has its way.
The recently concluded Talk Journalism 2016 event, held at the palatial Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur, was a largely sombre affair. While most attendees to the event moved from hall to hall talking in hushed voices about serious issues, there was one area of the hotel that broke this trend.
At the centre of the Fairmont, by a staircase that looked like it was straight out of the Titanic, stood the Yeppar stall. It was bedecked from end to end with large TV screens and equipped with a number of virtual reality headsets. The flashy visuals and tech disrupted the feel of the otherwise serious event, drawing attendees like moths to a flame. And with good reason.
In an age where newspapers are dying, Yeppar leverages AR technology to pull newspapers out of the past and into the digital age. Rams wants to partner with newspapers to optimise their print editions to function with their Yeppar app.
Revitalising the newspaper
The Yeppar app then uses your phone to transform your newspaper experience entirely. Viewing a newspaper story through the Yeppar app brings the story to life. Related news pops up off the page allowing you to browse related stories. "In this way," says Ankush Sharma, the CEO of Rams, "we can do away with the space limitations of print. What's more, you can also link to stories an organisation has produced after the actual issue has gone to print!"
This last feature is particularly exciting for organisations that have both print and online platforms. Through this, media houses can leverage their more current online news to keep their print business relevant, while consequently driving online traffic through their newspapers and magazines.
"People read newspapers everyday," Ankush Sharma told Catch, "but to know more about a particular piece of news, they have to use the internet or television. Everything is scattered. Yeppar changes all that by bringing everything together."
While Yeppar isn't in the market yet, here's what the augmented reality news experience looks like:
Revamping print advertising
What's more, Yeppar's AR makes everything in the paper more dynamic. Static photographs can be turned into moving videos. Infographics can be made interactive and 3-dimensional. But the real win here is advertisements.
It's no secret that ad revenue of newspapers is drying up. However, according to a recent talk by News Corp's Raju Narisetti, the problem isn't due to a lack of ads. It's due to undervaluing ads and not investing in ad creation. Yeppar is able to bring value back to the real estate of print ads while revamping their dry and static nature.
With Yeppar, a print ad for a movie is now a playable trailer. What's more, it can also be linked to a ticket booking site, allowing papers to generate income from both movie makers as well as booking websites.
Real estate ads now go from being 2D to having 3D models bursting out of the page. Options for 360-degree viewing only make the advertisements that much more valuable. Customers can even schedule appointments for viewings straight from the ad without once having to pick up the phone.
What's more, print ad analytics will now be a thing, allowing papers to show prospective customers the reach and efficacy of their ads, which were previously just hit and hope.
As we sit in the hotel lobby wrapping up our conversation, I ask Ankush how much longer he thinks newspapers will survive. "20 or 25 years," he says confidently, "if they embrace the latest in technology. Without it, probably a lot sooner."