November 14, 2012, 4:28 PM

A digital app turns Esquire readers into shoppers, viewers and more

Netpage lets readers manipulate print pages with smartphones.

Lead Photo

Consumers perusing the December issue of Esquire magazine can now multitask by doing a little online shopping along with their reading.

The publisher is using Netpage, a new iPhone app that turns paper pages of print magazines into digital interactive pages. Readers can use the Netpage app to interact with the print edition of Esquire and do things such as purchase items in ads, play videos, and digitally clip and save any article, photo or ad and share it via e-mail, text, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

Esquire says all its magazine issues going forward will work with the Netpage app. And Hearst Corp., which publishes Esquire and other popular magazines including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Elle, says it will use Netpage for more of its magazines in the future.

The Netpage app, which is free to consumers, uses a combination of image recognition, augmented reality  and its own Digital Twin technology. Digital Twin allows consumers to interact, via their smartphone touchscreens, with Netpage-enabled print magazines.

A consumer hovers over pages with his smartphone and the app recognizes each magazine page, delivering a digital replica of the printed page to the reader’s mobile screen. As the reader moves the phone over the surface of the page, the app tracks with the page, creating a ‘glass-bottomed boat effect' between the printed page and the user's smartphone. The app’s technology then sends instructions to its web servers about what to present to the reader based on his interaction with the app and the pages of the magazine.

With the December issue, for example, a shopper can manipulate the cover to see a video of actor Bradley Cooper; purchase items featured from MadeMovement, a site that sells American-made products; share a gumbo recipe on Pinterest; and save articles on his smartphone to read later.

The issue also includes a two-page advertising spread for the 2013 Lexus LS F Sport. When readers scan the ad using the Netpage app, it comes to life: taillights from passing traffic move by, the scene animates, and the headlights of the vehicle turn on. The animation then transitions into a 30-second Lexus video ad. While consumers can clip, save and share all ads in the digital issue, only the Lexus ad offers those extras, Esquire says.

Esquire displays a small shopping cart icon on items appearing in the magazine that are available for purchase. A reader touches the icon and is linked to the retailer’s web site where he can complete a purchase. Esquire receives a small affiliate fee for every purchase that stems from the app, the magazine says. The company did not disclose the fee.

“We are always looking for ways Esquire can expand on the magazine experience,” says David Granger, editor-in-chief of Esquire.

The December 2009 issue of Esquire, for example,enabled readers to download free augmented reality software to their computers and then watch their magazine come to life on their monitors. When readers held the special magazine cover marked with a quick response or QR code up to their monitors, actor Robert Downey Jr. came to life, jumping and shouting at the reader, and then calming himself and welcoming readers to the special augmented reality issue.

Throughout that issue, readers could hold pages marked with more QR codes up to their screens to watch the weather in pictures transform from a snowy day to a windy day and change outfits on models. A monthly feature called Funny Joke From a Beautiful Woman also came to life. When a reader held the print magazine to his PC, actress Gillian Jacobs told the joke directly to the reader. And the software could detect the time, enabling Jacobs to deliver a fresh quip once an hour.

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