Quad/Graphics Enhances 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue with Virtual Reality Viewer
Quad/Graphics is testing the technology waters by bounding its Quad Virtual Reality (QVR) Viewer into 500,000 newsstand versions of the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
Readers engaging in the virtual reality (VR) experience will be treated to behind-the-scenes content and what Sports Illustrated calls “intimate access” with five featured models. While a virtual date with seductively posed models on sandy beaches may be appealing to some, there is a bigger picture to consider: marketing excellence. This technology could be a gateway toward achieving that goal. According to a press release, advertisers are able to brand and print four-color process on the unit’s outer shell for increased brand visibility.
“Publishers are looking for new and innovative ways to connect more with their readership,” said Joel Quadracci, chairman, president and CEO of the Sussex, Wisconsin-based printer, in the release. “The QVR Viewer allows them to provide enhanced digital experiences that complement and extend their brand, or advertisers’ brands, beyond traditional print or digital content.”
The process is straightforward, so those who identify as “technologically challenged” need not worry. Simply remove the viewer from the magazine and fold it together. Then, download the SI Swim 2016 app (available for both Apple and Android devices). Insert your smartphone into the headset and launch the SI app.
Quad/Graphics was inspired to develop its own headset after studying Google’s Cardboard viewer, which was introduced in 2014 as an inexpensive introduction to virtual reality headsets. (According to Fortune, users can order a unit for as little as $19 from one of Google’s partners—a much better price compared to Facebook’s Oculus Rift headset, which sells for $599.)
“Compared to other paper viewers, the QVR Viewer is an economical way to reach readers and consumers with a fully branded gateway to digital content,” Quadracci continued.
As reported by Xconomy, the QVR Viewer and Google Cardboard have more in common than an attractive price tag. Similar to Google’s product, the QVR Viewer is “little more than a box with two lenses that help a user focus on a phone running a VR-friendly app.” The Cardboard viewer specification is open source and manufacturers can download the kit here.
“Google could have just patented this technology and kept it to themselves,” Quad/Graphics director of custom products Tim Fox told Xconomy. “But they put it out there as an open environment—as public architecture. They said, ‘If you can make something that works, have at it.’”
Fox told Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel that the firm plans to play a more active role with the creation of video content. (Note, for the Sports Illustrated partnership, Quad/Graphics was responsible for producing and printing the cardboard viewer.)