By Richard Stuart-Turner, Friday 11 January 2019
The Big Issue has partnered with Konica Minolta to offer its readers a new way to access exclusive content through the use of augmented reality (AR).
Powered by Konica Minolta’s new AR app genARate, the first issue of the magazine to use the technology, dated 7 to 13 January, focuses on the importance of using ‘Tech for Good’ and includes various in-depth and interactive stories that can only be unlocked via the genARate app.
The issue highlights specific organisations and entrepreneurs that are using technology to help improve society.
It also includes exclusive video content from ex-Razorlight drummer and Snowman and the Snowdog composer Andy Burrows and Notes On a Nervous Planet author Matt Haig.
Additionally, it features David Tennant reading an extract from Cressida Cowell's new Wizards of Once book and a musical playlist from foreign correspondent John Simpson.
Readers can purchase a copy of The Big Issue from their local vendor this week and can download the genARate app from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store at any time for free.
The two companies said the goal of the partnership is to provide enriched content for readers, improve the lives of vendors through increased sales and, ultimately, dismantle the social stigma and common misconceptions around Big Issue vendors.
“The ‘Tech for Good’ special not only shows the ways in which we’re pushing the boundaries of what print magazines can achieve, but also gives readers enhanced insights into the lives of our vendors, as their stories are brought into video and audio right in front of our readers’ eyes,” said Ben Sullivan, digital editor of The Big Issue.
The special edition features AR interactions throughout the publication, including the cover, which highlights the story of vendor Ann Warke, who turned to The Big Issue when she couldn’t afford to pay her rent due to losing her job.
To unlock the exclusive content, readers can scan the trigger image, which is clearly marked with an AR icon. In addition to the current special edition, The Big Issue said it now plans to use AR on a bi-monthly basis going forwards.
Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe partnership founder and international business development manager Ashley McConnell said: “With homelessness in the United Kingdom at an all-time high, this partnership is a prime example of how businesses, social enterprises, innovation and technology can come together to improve living conditions for the world’s most vulnerable populations.
“The general consensus has been really positive, from The Big Issue, the market, and also from within Konica Minolta as an organisation.
“This is almost a launch of our genARate platform as well as a new type of content for The Big Issue, so It was very much a team effort from the start. While it will be a bi-monthly feature, following the success of this issue there may be plans to introduce it more frequently.”