By using a smartphone or tablet, readers of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette can watch their newspaper come to life with the new PLUS application that launched July 1. The Democrat-Gazette is the first augmented-reality newspaper in the state, and the second in the country to use the app developed by Aurasma. The Philadelphia Inquirer uses a similar app for its Sunday edition.

PLUS works when readers download and install the free app to their iPhone, iPad, or Android device. They look in the printed edition for photos or advertisements with the PLUS logo, and when the mobile device is held over the photo or ad, exclusive content, such as a video, is activated.

Former Democrat-Gazette online director Conan Gallaty now serves as executive vice president of WEHCO Digital Media, a new division of Democrat-Gazette parent company WEHCO Media Inc. In his new position, he plans to roll out the app to other markets.

Gallaty said the app is a hit with advertisers. “(They) love to tell their stories and messages, and the videos make them stand out.” For example, he said a furniture store advertiser had put together a how-to video on interior decorating. The app also has the ability to link to the advertiser’s website or directly call the business.

On the editorial side, Gallaty said reporters can now produce more videos to include with their stories, including spot news assignments. Two other niche publications from the Democrat-Gazette have also been enhanced with the app.

Gallaty said the paper’s next step with the PLUS app is to continue staff development, such as 3-D image training and geofencing as a way to promote certain augmented images based on location.

According to Gallaty, the app has already been downloaded 10,000 times. “There’s always a demand for additional content,” he said. “This is an easy way … it’s one app open throughout the paper. The reader doesn’t have to jump through a lot of hoops.”

For more information, visit arkansasonline.com/plus.

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