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Monday, 21 December 2015 | By Gerry Mulvaney


By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

I was laying on a sunbed in Spain recently, with a cold beer and the waves lapping a few metres away enjoying a contemplative moment of contemporary reality. I was a long way from the cold and wet UK, with nothing really on my mind apart from what I was going to have for lunch. For a baby boomer like me that’s the sort of reality I like to enjoy a couple of times a year and it sure beats the reality of normal day to day life.

In recent times however there have been other sorts of reality coming on the scene, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). And while you may think these are still science fiction technologies, you can be sure that your kids will be familiar with them and some may even be using them today.

IKEA catalog with Augmented Reality (AR) technology

Augmented reality: In IKEA’s catalogue, AR technology allows you to place virtual furniture around the house

Once a year those involved in bringing these technologies to life gather to share their experience and their knowledge at the Web Summit and in November it was hosted in Dublin. Both technologies, along with drones, featured heavily at the event. While the focus was probably on gaming, with the Oculus Rift headset taking pole position, there will be lots of other applications, even in print and packaging in future.

Oculus Rift headset

Oculus Rift headset

The Oculus Rift is a rather bulky headset and earphones, linked to special gloves with controls and connected to a computer. Software in the computer projects 3D images into the headset which immerse the wearer in the scene in front of them. This virtual reality world can contain just about anything the imagination of the programmers can create, whether that’s an adrenaline filled adventure game or exploring a new landscape.

Virtual Reality (VR) view of Seinfeld’s apartment

Virtual Reality: Oculus Rift's VR technology allows you to explore Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment

Before you dismiss it, be aware that Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has just paid US$2bn for the company that developed it and claims that one day “Augmented Reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people”.

Sony and HTC also think there is something in it as they are bringing their own headsets to market in 2016. Both augmented reality (AR) – adding to what we experience in the real world and virtual reality (VR) – creating a completely new world, are no longer the future. They are here today!

Printers prepare: Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Could Be Coming Your Way Soon

So when will we see the new technologies in the pressroom? Well perhaps the first examples will be printed for customers, since we have already seen some examples in recent months. The US giant Toys ”R” Us has incorporated an AR app into its Christmas catalogue that allows children to interact with toys on the pages using a smartphone or tablet while making their Christmas wish list, while Disney has showcased an AR enabled children’s colouring book which can be viewed as a 3D image in the same way.

Coloring book by Disney using an Augmented Reality (AR) app

After colouring in a picture, kids can use Disney’s app to see
their illustrations jump off the page

Printers could find whole new markets opening up by the new technologies. Even closer to home in the pressroom, perhaps future press service manuals might be coming to life in the hands of the press operators. Watch this space….

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Landa S10 - Printing Press