Smartphones Helping Magazines Become Interactive –

Print may be a flat medium, but that has not stopped magazine publishers from trying to add dimension to their pages. For at least a decade, they have been experimenting with bar codes and icons that could take readers to Web sites, trying to add a bit of Internetlike interactivity to their pages.

Black-and-white codes on a page from the March issue of Esquire can link Web-enabled phones to styling advice for items in the magazine.

But the average consumer did not own a bar-code reader — until now. With the sudden ubiquity of smartphones, which have apps that can read bar codes, and cameraphones, which can easily snap pictures of icons, magazines like Esquire and InStyle are adding interactive graphics to their articles, while Entertainment Weekly and Star are including them in ads.

Meanwhile, publishers using text-messaging programs to try to enliven their pages are packing information into the messages and using reader responses to calibrate their coverage.

The idea is not new. Back in 2000, a company called Digital:Convergence introduced a product called the :CueCat. The premise was advanced, but simple. Pages could be printed with bar codes, which readers could scan, and then be connected to specific Internet sites. That would help them find the shirt being advertised, or specs on the Ford truck they liked.

via Smartphones Helping Magazines Become Interactive –