Herald-Times takes tech leap

The Herald-Times' HTLivepage app connects readers to digital media using images printed in the newspaper.

The Herald-Times (Bloom­ington) became among the first U.S. news­papers to launch an augmented reality app.

The Schurz Communications paper debuted it Aug. 27.

The app connects readers to digital media using images printed in the newspaper.

Readers can see video and other multimedia elements after hovering their smartphones or tablets over images in print and tapping the screen.

The technology is similar to QR code, only no special marks are needed for the image on the newspaper page to launch interactive features on a mobile device.

Developed by Aurasma, a sub­sidiary of Hewlett-Packard, HTlivepage allows readers to interact with their newspapers in revolutionary ways, Publisher Mayer Maloney said.

“It’s gee-whiz technology that really broadens and deepens the print experience and allows readers to turn photos into videos in seconds,” Maloney said. “We see opportunities with advertising as well – auto dealers and real estate companies seem like naturals to mar­­ket their products with this.”

After downloading and installing the free HTlivepage app, readers can use their device’s camera to recognize a “live” image and watch video. With a double-tap, HTlivepage allows the viewer to continue watching away from the printed paper.

The technology opens up all sorts of possibilities for extending coverage, Editor Bob Zaltsberg said.

“People who read the print edition with a mobile device at their fingertips, as so many do, have more options,” Zaltsberg said. “Plus, it really prompts us to think about the various ways we can tell our stories.”

Aside from resources spent developing the HTlivepage brand, the newspaper didn’t incur costs in its partnership with Aurasma.

“They’re trying to take augmented reality mainstream, and developing a large user base is the best way to do that,” said Shaylan Owen, marketing manager for The Herald-Times.

Other papers with Auras­ma apps include The Philadel­phia Inquirer and The Ark­an­sas-Democrat (Little Rock). The Los Angeles Times’ augmented reality app is from In8 Mobile.