Orbit have done cool augmented reality versions of the covers of the 2019 debuts. There’s a bunch of videos on twitter.
Enter a city of saints and thieves . . .— Orbit Books (@orbitbooks) October 4, 2019
Pick up THE GUTTER PRAYER by #orbit19 author Gareth Hanrahan (@mytholder) and use the Google Lens app to step into the city of Guerdon!
Android devices via the Google Lens app
iPhone via the Google app
We did our own reaction video.
The whole experience makes me wonder about other uses for augmented reality and books. The trick to augmented reality is that it has to be low-effort and seamless – animated book covers are just animated gifs, and only become enchanting when you slip them into the real world. Something like a pop-up glossary that reminds you who the characters are is only really beneficial if it’s quicker and easier than just popping out your phone and googling.
Leaving aside accessibility (popping up bigger text, text-to-speech and the like), what context-sensitive augmentation could be useful? Magical maps that reveal secrets when you look at them through the screen? Soundtracks keyed to particular chapters?
Or maybe the great virtue of channelling information through a physical object is that it keeps the focus _on_ that object. This guardian article resonates; my reading has dropped off a cliff in the last few years. (To be fair, reading twitter feels like bearing witness to the End Times…) If I’m taking out my phone to interact with a book, as opposed to twitchily checking my soshul meeja, is that…better? Augmented reality as digital methadone, weaning us all off our phone addictions by reminding us of physical stuff exists.
That’s probably a big lift for an animated gif, but the technology is young. And in the mean time, shiny covers!
(Special bonus content: Twin 1 explains The Gutter Prayer.)