Augmented Reality & Publishing

This month we’re trying something a little different in Now Then Magazine, experimenting with how augmented reality and poetry publishing might sit together in the Wordlife creative writing section. The project has been funded by Arts Council England and delivered by Wordlife alongside Sheffield-based tech start-up Megaverse, formerly Epiphany VR.

In this month’s magazine, readers can download the ‘Wordlife AR’ app and scan a QR code at the bottom of the page which reveals an augmented reality poem.Essentially, this means the poem appears on top of the physical page through your phone or tablet’s screen. We’ve printed a basic Word processing documentation the page to help frame how the poem appears. The technology works using a piece of software called Vuforia, which operates through an app that uses the device’s internet connection to pull content from the cloud and activate it through the QR code.

Augmented reality publishing is a really exciting new area of work. This project was inspired by previous technology and literature collaborations between Wordlife and Megaverse, which have included 360-degree ‘poem films’ and app-based storytelling. It was also inspired by the work of Tom Abba and his artist collective Circumstance, which specialises in digital publishing projects.

This month’s magazine is the first example of us experimenting with the technology.December’s issue shows where poems come from. A reader can scan the QR code and watch a poet writing their poem, editing subsequent drafts before a final version appears. It allows us to experience a writer’s process from beginning to end, doing something a book alone would never be able to achieve. It’s the culmination of a few months of work to develop the app to this point. We’re still learning about the limitations of the technology, as well as its exciting possibilities.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Sheffield, all you need to do is to go to your closest good bar, restaurant or sandwich shop, pick up a copy of Now Then,download the ‘Wordlife AR’ app on iOS or Android, and follow the instructions on the screen to experience the work. If you don’t live in Sheffield you can buy a copy of December’s Now Then for a small charge from our website.

We’ve got some really exciting other collaborations coming in February and March that will push the technology further. This will include animations and illustration by Sheffield design company Cosmic Monocle. We’re excited about sharing these with you and thinking about where the technology could lead in the future. 

Joe, Wordlife project co-ordinator



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