As digital becomes mainline, companies are trying novel ways to exploit the medium and increase consumer engagement. On its part, The Times of India has launched its first augmented reality service with an app called 'Alive'. Even on the app's soft launch on Sunday, it purportedly witnessed 2,50,000 downloads leading to 3,00,000 augmentation views on a single day.
Says Satyan Gajwani, chief executive officer, Times Internet, says, "The idea is to bridge the gap of the offline and online worlds. Most people are still comfortable interacting with the mediums they are used to, like the newspaper. We wanted to make the medium more interactive and bring higher value to our readers, so we came up with this initiative."
The technology has been built and designed by Times Internet in partnership with Adstuck Consulting.
"In the afternoon, we have a cross-media editorial sync up, where we discuss the biggest news issues across every category. We sync up our editorial teams across every medium in the Times Group. The output of the call is to identify the biggest potential cases where an augmentation would add value for our consumers. Over the next few hours, we produce exclusive content which features in Alive, and we develop the call-to-action within the paper. By evening, our tech team, our print team and our Alive production team finish their deliverables, and we integrate them for the next day's paper offering," explains Gajwani.
The group has invested a significant amount into the app's development via technology and design, and aims to ensure compelling content around Alive.
Currently, the group has integrated the application with ToI, Bombay Times, Delhi Times and a few others. It also plans to integrate it with The Economic Times, along with several language editions.
The content for the application will be sourced from Times Television Network (Times Now, ETNow, Zoom and others). The group also plans to expand to a lot of different types of content from multiple providers as the activity is scaled up.
On December 16, the most popular augmentation was a video interview between Arnab Goswami and Salman Khan, with Khan shedding light on his days when he was diagnosed with a disease. This story was augmented by 65,000 users over a four-hour period.
In an official statement, Vineet Jain, managing director, BCCL, says, "The Times of India believes in innovating constantly and out of the box thinking. This technology has existed for years as QR code readers, but no newspaper in the world has used it editorially to delight its readers. We are excited to bring a new level of interactivity to the newspaper every day, and there is more to come in the coming weeks."