Merging Print With Digital: 5 Exciting Technologies You Probably Don't Know About


When walking into any airport, park, or cafe, the notion that print is dead appears to be absurd. Traditional print media is still present almost everywhere I go, from newspapers to magazines and books made out of—that's right—paper!

These statements aren't meant to suggest that the digitalization of the print industry isn't transforming the publishing sector, but instead to illustrate that print remains alive and well as it evolves into a superior experience through the emergence of new technologies.

Traditional publishers can continue to thrive by embracing the changes that are occurring while effectively applying innovative tools to connect to the digital world.

The following five technologies present exciting possibilities for the publishing industry moving forward:

Conductive Ink creates a printed object which conducts electricity. An example of this technology in practice is a book with a wireless module on its back cover, allowing it to communicate with devices and screens, such as computers, phones, and TVs. A book of this type becomes a printed interface to the digital world, while still looking and feeling virtually identical to the traditional format. A reader can access digital content of any kind, including videos, music, or webpages, simply by touching a link on a book's page.

FingerLink, developed by Fujitsu, is designed to allow a reader's fingers to control a scanner and projector via printed information as a way to connect digital and analog in a compelling manner. The technology can detect a user's touch or swipe of any printed object and enables the copying of text or images to be projected elsewhere, thereby creating a paper touchscreen on a newspaper, book, or other printed material.

Clickable Paper was created by Ricoh to combine the online and offline worlds. Using advanced image recognition and matching technology, a user can point a smartphone or tablet at the product to gain access to online resources, such as webpages, photos, videos, and e-commerce portals. The technology is compatible with any printed media and includes many features, including push notifications and cookies.

Augmented Reality Publishing offers an exciting method for enhancing printed media while retaining everything that people love about physical objects. Through the use of smartphone apps, printed materials can provide highly interactive experiences. By merely pointing a mobile camera at a picture, readers can watch a video, listen to audio, or read additional information via Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Several major companies have utilized AR in their print marketing campaigns, including The New Yorker, Disney, and Volkswagen, taking advantage of the incredible potential to increase engagement with consumers.

Interactive Print Ads provide another inventive way to merge digital and print. While a growing percentage of advertising budgets are allocated to digital outlets, some brands are finding methods for combining digital with physical mediums through interactive newspaper and magazine ads. One example comes from Nivea with its print ad that included a wristband to attach to a child as they play at the beach, allowing the parent to set a safe distance and receive alerts if they exceed the limit. Motorola is another company that made innovative use of the technology when it partnered with Wired to promote customization of the Moto X phone, allowing readers to change the color by pushing buttons in the magazine ad. Kontor Records devised an exceptionally creative idea to get the attention of ad professionals when it mailed out a vinyl record that included a paper turntable capable of being played with an iPhone.

It's an exciting time in the publishing industry, as traditional and digital mediums intertwine. Long-term prosperity can be secured by embracing new technologies and applying these tools in fresh ways to enrich the experience of readers while increasing engagement through cutting-edge communication with consumers.

Ready to explore how technology can benefit your publishing business? Join the conversation in the comments below or contact me at @sbludov.

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