Printing technology has advanced to the point where a poster of a drum kit can be printed with conductive inks and “played” by simply touching the surface.
Likewise, tech makes it possible to print a spread that allows smartphone users with near field communications (NFC) chips to experience a multi-media demo of a luxury car simply by holding the magazine near their phone.
Kate McQuater of The Drum heralds these advances as the “new beginnings for print” and almost giddily describes her vision of publishing in the not-too-distant future.
“Technologies such as augmented reality, printed electronics and NFC are paving the way for a new type of content consumption in the digital age – and by integrating the tangibility of print with the immediacy of digital, they are injecting new life into one of the oldest mediums, allowing print to become more interactive, engaging and useful,” she explains.
What many like McQuater fail to recognize is that the value of print stands solidly on its own. We have computers and smartphones, and we have printed materials. We do not need our printed materials to function the same way our tablets and our iPhones do to be engaging or useful.
As print industry analyst BoSacks asks “…when your everyday printed product has all the attributes of an iPad or other connected device, are you still going to call it ‘print’?”
It’s inevitable that there will be some melding of digital and print. I believe that, as with most innovations, the heaviest usage will be in advertising. Marketers have an uncanny way of co-opting any innovations for profit.
Still, making printed materials function like a digital device can hardly be painted as the future of print.
As BoSacks states, “You either think that print is, in fact, an engaging and rewarding experience with profitability and longevity, even though it isn’t connected, or you believe that the predominant way people will read in the future is with connected devices.”
Put us solidly in the first camp, Bo.