Powered by Digital Magic: Augmented Reality enhanced books by Carlton Publishing
Powered by Digital Magic
I helped Carlton Books build a reputation over 7 years as the pre-eminent publisher of digital/print hybrid titles worldwide, selling over 4 million books in 25 languages and 34 countries. In each of those years, Carlton’s top selling title was an AR powered book. The titles also won a range of publishing and tech awards including three Bologna Children’s Book Fair Digital prizes.
Carlton first explored AR technology using web cams and desktop computers with their books. But the user experience and business opportunity really took flight once smartphones and tablets became the primary tool for delivering the digital experience.
I worked with the Carlton team to develop multiple AR/print book ranges, innovative interactive formats and software toolkits for supporting them. Here are some of our highlight achievements:
- AR titles based on global franchises. These included books and apps based on Jurassic World, Toy Story, Frozen, Star Wars, How to Train Your Dragon, Alien and more. We worked directly with production teams to access assets we could reconfigure for interactive gameplay and storytelling alongside the printed page, allowing fans to bring their film favourites to life at home.
- A factual series about the natural world, iExplore. 12 titles with stunning 3D models, including dinosaurs, deep sea dwellers, bugs, wild predators and microscopic creatures. The AR and print format is ideal for learning journeys, whether teacher, parent or child led.
- Video on the Page. While interacting with 3D models in AR grabs the headlines, the ability to turn any page into a screen for video is perhaps more magical as an AR/print feature. We first used this technique to deliver clips from the original movie in our ‘Alien’ title, then delivered documentary footage and animations in books on subjects including the Space Race and Dinosaurs, and to create ‘haunted photographs’ in the Ghostkeeper’s Journal. Proof that sometimes the technical simplicity can sometimes deliver greater value.
WHERE BOOKS AND GAMES MEET
Titles like ‘My Cutest Kitten’ explored ways to personalise the factual book and app experience, allowing readers to create and train their ideal kitten, and house it at the back of the book. Part ‘Tamagochi’ nurturing game, part real world guide for looking after a pet, the books in this series delivered a new kind of immersion in factual content.
Looking to the future
AR Glasses and hands-free interaction will offer a new range of opportunities for connecting physical books with digital capabilities in the near future. Polarity Reversal is exploring this now for future projects.