The Bermuda Sun created a buzz this week with the launch of interactive print technology called Augmented Reality (AR).

The technology allows readers to scan pages with a smartphone or tablet and watch as photos evolve into video or photo galleries. Scanned pages can also take readers to website links, contact information for businesses and social media links.

In order to scan the page, you have to download the Layar app, which is free for smartphones or tablets.

Teams from the Bermuda Sun hit the streets of Hamilton on Wednesday morning — in the wind and rain — to introduce AR to Bermuda.

Equipped with smartphones and iPads, we showed you firsthand what AR is and how you can use it by scanning the paper. Out sister publication, bermuda.com guide, also uses AR and our colleagues at Island Press have even produced ‘talking’ business cards, which proved to be a big hit with people on launch day.

Islanders were intrigued with the new technology and many were quick to download the Layar app to get in on the action. We had teams of MediaHouse personnel fanned across the city at locations including the main bus and ferry terminals, coffee shops, roundabouts and a gas station.  

As AR is a first for Bermuda, people who were shown the cutting edge technology were stunned by its capabilities. 

Senior figures at MediaHouse were delighted with the initial response from the public. 

Lisa Beauchamp, president of the Bermuda Sun, said: “For me, it’s all about the wow factor. Everyone I have shown Augmented Reality to has reacted with words like ‘amazing’, ‘incredible’, ‘awesome’. It takes print advertising to a new level, which makes me happy as you often hear that print is dying. Well, this proves that it’s not — print is now digitally interactive, which is wonderful news for our faithful print advertisers.

“Advertisers with small or large budgets will find our Augmented Reality costs affordable and I believe moving forward it will become routine to include AR with every advertising placement.”

Gobsmacked

Glenn Jones, general manager for MediaHouse, parent company of the Bermuda Sun, said: “Augmented reality is so forward-thinking, you have to experience it firsthand to truly appreciate and understand it. The way video, music and other media fly off the page leaves people gobsmacked. I just love watching people’s reaction when they see it for the first time — readers and advertisers.

“I love it when we get out in the field and talk to readers, especially when we have something cool like this to show them. It reminds me that we’re a community newspaper, a family-owned company and people clearly respond favourably to that.  I had a lot of fun today [Wednesday’s launch day], it didn’t feel like work.

“MediaHouse formed all of its companies under one roof almost ten years ago and I think this is the most innovative, most exciting technology we have ever introduced to the market. And I’d like to think this is just the beginning.”

Tony McWilliam, editor of the Bermuda Sun, says AR breathes new life into “somewhat maligned” print products: “We’ve found a way not only to make print more fun and relevant to tech-savvy Bermudians, but also to encourage readers to interact with the printed paper. We’re hopeful it will attract more readers and heighten the paper’s profile.”