Northern California Newspaper, Ledger Dispatch, Brings its Pages to Life
Augmented Reality Technology Aims to Reinvigorate Newspapers' Revenue while Delighting Readers
JACKSON, Calif., Feb. 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- In a dramatic move that promises to reinvigorate newspapers' revenues while delighting their readers, a Northern California paper is harnessing augmented reality technology to bring its pages to life.
The groundbreaking Interactive News initiative by the Ledger Dispatch allows readers to use their smartphones to "see" trigger images in the newspaper and access a deeper level of content. After downloading an app, readers simply hold their Android or iPhone device over photos or blocks of text to launch the interactive experience.
"With this tool, readers can use their newspaper as a launch pad to watch movie trailers, read the local crime log, shop for a new car, view the last few minutes of a high school basketball game, or just explore different dimensions of a news story," said Jack Mitchell, publisher of the Ledger Dispatch, a twice-weekly paper based in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
"The possibilities are endless. With just a smartphone, the traditional newspaper becomes a 21st Century interactive experience," said Mitchell.
Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality, or AR, does not require the use of special glasses, computers, or other accessories. Its power lies in the ability to overlay digital imagery on a person's view of the real world, using a smartphone.
"This is a great technological tool for consumers because it's easy to use and works on everyone's smartphone," said John Wright, chief executive officer of Strata, a Utah-based developer of some of the first AR platforms and the exclusive development partner for Interactive News. "It turns the newspaper into a portal for accessing limitless opportunities in a reader's local community and beyond."
AR is perhaps best known for its 2016 application in the wildly popular Pokémon Go game. But the technology is rapidly gaining steam in mainstream business applications as well, and some analysts predict it will drive a $20-billion market by 2020. Nissan recently launched an AR experience that lets shoppers view cars through a device that delivers guided tours of automobile features by Star Wars droids and Stormtroopers.
With that application, however, consumers need to visit a showroom. With Interactive News, users can enjoy AR while eating oatmeal and reading the paper at their own breakfast table.
The Ledger Dispatch project is believed to be the first to use AR to enhance a newspaper. And while the paper – with a circulation of 6,000 and a staff of 12 – may seem a bit small for a meaningful demonstration project, its owners hope to spread the technology to others in the struggling newspaper industry.
Mitchell said the technology holds tremendous appeal for advertisers, whose steady abandonment of newspapers has sent industry revenues plummeting. With AR, businesses can layer video, audio and other features behind an advertisement in the pages of the paper, enhancing their ability to woo customers.
"We believe newspapers are the glue that holds communities together, and we know they are struggling to remain solvent and relevant in the digital world," said Rich Hoffman, chief executive officer of the Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians, which owns the Ledger Dispatch. "We think the AR experience can help newspapers win back readers, and we want to make this technology accessible to them on a wide scale."
"Readers today are looking for more, and newspapers are trying everything to reinvent themselves," said Adam Dalton, chairman of the Jackson Rancheria Band. "AR could be a game-changer for this industry, and we are all in to make that happen."
On Friday (2/9/18), Mitchell formally launched the AR technology in the pages of the Ledger Dispatch, which covers Amador and Calaveras counties, the heart of California's famed Gold Country. The launch generated an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from readers.
One example: by holding a phone over the acorn symbol on the paper's front-page masthead, readers can hear an audio round-up of news from the day. Another example: by holding a phone over an ad for a local pub, you can hear a tune played by its featured musical act.
"Newspapers are my lifelong passion, and I am very optimistic about where this technology can take us as an industry," Mitchell said. "How optimistic? For the first time in ages, we're hiring."
Mitchell plans to make a formal presentation to the California News Publishers Association later this month, but the technology is available now at www.InteractiveNews.live.
The Ledger Dispatch is a twice weekly, locally owned and operated, full-service newspaper that strives to innovate on behalf the consumer. Serving Amador and Calaveras Counties in California, the Ledger Dispatch most recently integrated augmented reality into its digital platforms, becoming first newspaper to do so. The Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians purchased the Ledger Dispatch in 2016.
Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians
The Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians is a federally recognized Indian tribe that owns and operates Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort, located in the Sierra foothills town of Jackson, California. A sovereign government, the Rancheria is dedicated to developing projects that not only enhance the tribe's ability to remain self-reliant, but also reflect a commitment to be a good neighbor. Most recently, the Rancheria acquired the Ledger Dispatch newspaper as a part of their continued support of the community.
Strata (Strata Mixed Reality Inc.) is an award-winning leader in 3D, VR and AR technologies and applications. The Strata AR platform brings the power of augmented reality to non-technical users for markets and industries as varied as newspapers, utilities and retail. "Strata" is a registered trademark of Strata Mixed Reality Inc. Learn more about Strata at www.strata.com.
Contact: Doug Elmets