The Big Issue launches augmented reality technology with magazine

The AR app, genARate, allows readers to access exclusive content about the homelessness crisis

The Big Issue has launched augmented reality technology with its magazine as it seeks to highlight the homelessness crisis in the UK.

Working with Konica Minolta, the charity has created an AR app, genARate, which enables readers to access exclusive content.

The special edition will have AR interactions throughout the publication, including the cover. This carries the story of vendor Ann Warke, 53, who turned to The Big Issue when she couldn’t afford to pay her rent because she'd lost her job.

Readers scan the trigger image, which is marked with an AR icon, to experience the hidden stories in the magazine. This issue focuses on "tech for good", highlighting specific organisations and entrepreneurs that are using tech to tackle social problems.

The digital editor at The Big Issue, Ben Sullivan, said that technology was helping it to "hammer home" the messages about homelessness and poverty in the UK.

"I think it’s a crisis and when you look at the numbers they’re almost unfathomable," he told Third Sector.

"It’s important to hammer this home and spread the message. Homelessness figures are the highest they’ve been for a decade. It’s not a problem that's going away.

"It’s not all about homelessness either. People are being pushed into poverty and we are seeing more and more people coming to us to be vendors. So we are trying to find new ways to raise awareness and help to solve the problem."

Sullivan added that AR was just one of a number of new developments designed to take the title forward over the next few years. A revamp of the website was recently completed and production of a series of documentary videos promoting vendors is well under way. There will also be podcasts that will feature guests discussing current affairs as well as homelessness.

AR is expected to feature in the magazine on a bi-monthly basis although Sullivan said the frequency was likely to increase. The first issue is on sale until Monday, 14 January.

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