Ricoh has released Clickable Paper in South Africa. It has the ability to provide immediate one-touch access to up to six different online resources such as video or multimedia, websites, e-commerce portals and social networks.
"You point your smartphone or tablet camera at a clickable page and the app for iOS and Android takes a picture that references back to the cloud where the content owner makes whatever content they want available via the six or fewer links," says Vaughan Patterson, sales manager for the production printing business group at Ricoh SA.
Unlike QR codes, it can reference any image including a logo on an item of clothing, a T-shirt or, as the name suggests, a page in a book, magazine, newspaper or any other printed material. The links it serves up take people to specific content instead of a general webpage that requires further interaction.
"The technology was piloted in Europe, field-tested and proven and applications are almost boundless. People can scan an advert in a newspaper, collect a digital coupon and get their discount for a product when they buy it in store. Or they can simply scan the cover of a book and access interactive content instead of using a bundled CD or DVD."
The technology works by storing the clickable page in the Ricoh cloud and, with the imminent release of an authoring tool content, owners can create and change content as they wish, over any period, while the clickable image remains the same, which is another key difference between Clickable Paper and QR codes. There is no need to issue a new image, as is the case with QR codes.
Although the Clickable Paper logo can be printed on the page to inform the reader that the images are hot spots for more interaction, the technology does not require visible marks of any kind on printed materials, so there is no need to design around a barcode that can detract from a document's appearance.
The commercialisation follows a number of successful pilots in the Netherlands, France and the UK, where the technology has been deployed by businesses in commercial print, publishing and luxury goods manufacturing across a range of applications that include books, newspapers and magazines.
Successful UK pilot
One of the pilots was UK commercial printer Barnwell Print. The company was keen to modernise the user's experience with the printed page and increase the value of print to enhance its breadth of services and support its clients to grow their own businesses.
Clickable Paper was incorporated into a 4,000 run of a 274-page book enabling readers to watch a video about fishing. Barnwell Print also used the technology successfully in an advert for Norwich Theatre Royal in a monthly town magazine with a circulation of 40,000 to encourage readers to order theatre tickets online.
"When we saw the product, we immediately recognised its potential," says Julian Barnwell, MD and co-owner of Barnwell Print. "It enables publications to be used as a portal to direct readers to all kinds of extra information or entertainment. It brings printed publications into the world of interactive, multi-channel communications and offers the real-time tracking of reader response that has heretofore been difficult to achieve with a printed publication.''
Dutch business magazine, De Zaak, chose it to reinforce subscriptions and advertising levels by offering a value-added service to subscribers. The monthly publication, with 155,000 readers and a 17,000 subscriber base, chose to enrich its articles with links to its website and other information sources.
Chief editor Armand Landman, says, "With it, we added something special to our printed magazine. We can now easily bridge to our online platform where our readers will find a wealth of additional information and services. This allows our readers to have fast, easy access to a broader range of material via their smartphones, with the printed magazine as the base." He has called it, "the next page in journalism."
Ricoh has won the France Xplor Grand Jury Award for innovation in Paris for the technology. The jury selected it based on how Ricoh and the luxury watch manufacturer, Bell and Ross, created a customised app to add impact to the launch of a new, ceramic watch at the prestigious Baselworld watch and jewellery show in Basel, Switzerland in March.
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