NMG steps up customer engagement with Layar augumented reality app

Nation Media Group (NMG) shareholders now have a chance to watch video clips on their mobile phones when reading the company’s annual report by scanning select pages with their cameras. This will be made possible by use of augmented reality (AR), a technology that uses a mobile phone’s cameras and other sensors to combine real and virtual (computer generated) worlds. For instance, readers of the NMG 2016 annual report will gain access to additional video content by downloading the augmented reality application Layar and using it to scan select pages in the document. Once a reader scans one of the pages in the annual report using Layar, related video content immediately pops up on the screen. “It is such a good way of bringing print media to life. We’re merging the print and the digital,” said Nation Media Group’s Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs - Clifford Machoka. Use of the technology will showcase NMG’s adoption of digital innovations as part of the group’s transformational path. "They can look at it as a peek into what to expect from the group in terms of products and innovations,” added Mr Machoka. In the annual report, augmented reality has been used to point readers to content on the company’s corporate values advertisements and information on its various print products. Mr Machoka said NMG’s use of AR in investor relations is a first for publicly listed companies in the region. He added that core content such as the chairman’s statement and highlights of the company’s sustainability projects will in future be showcased using Layar. The company chose to work with Layar because the Netherlands-based tech firm has proven to be ahead of the curve in terms of developing augmented reality solutions. The tech world is buzzing with the potential implications of AR. Layar has been applied to advertising, with the company saying that it has worked with brands such as Pepsi, Honda and Procter & Gamble. Large tech firms have also been exploring augmented reality whose market is projected to hit Sh6.2 trillion ($60 billion) by 2021, according to a forecast by Digi-Capital. There are already some famous applications of AR. Last year, the Pokémon Go wave hit the gaming world and left it fundamentally changed. The mobile-only app superimposes virtual animals onto the screens of gamers. It generated more than $500 million in revenue in two months. Companies like SnapChat also use virtual reality although they do not always market it as such. Facebook, Google and Apple have all indicated that they plan to invest heavily in AR. For newspaper journalists and other producers of print media content, AR provides an opportunity to enhance and liven up stories that would otherwise remain relatively “flat” on paper.