First Internet connected magazine launched

Written by Ben Hardwidge

March 24, 2009 // 2:30 p.m.

Tags: #amusement #apps #connected #content #internet #magazine #mirror #nabaztag #online #rfid #tag #violet #web

Many printed publications are facing a tough future with the wealth of convenient online content now available, but what if the two media-types could be combined in a futuristic sci-fi package worthy of Minority Report? That’s what quirky French company Violet reckons it’s achieved by teaming up with the quarterly high-end gadget and games mag, Amusement, as the latest issue of the magazine is apparently Internet-connected.

So how do you make a printed magazine interactive? Simple, an RFID tag is embedded in the second page of the magazine. You then just need to read the tag using Violet’s Mir:ror scanner, which then sends a request to the Violet server telling the Mir:ror to start dishing out the online features and apps.

Violet says that the online goodies initiated by the RFID tag include a “game designed by the artist Messhof, an interactive multi-user device an interactive installation by Factoid (Pierre Nouvel, Valère Terrier) and The Tone, a 3D video by Gkastere and wallpapers by Philippe Jarrigeon.”

Keen gadget watchers may also remember Violet as the quirky French company that brought us the Nabaztag; a bizarre Internet-connected rabbit that swirled its ears and read out your email to you. Violet’s Mir:ror is basically a USB device, which reacts to RFID ISO 14443 tags that can tell the device to launch applications. It works on Windows, Mac OS and Linux, so pretty much anyone with a computer can use it.

Explaining the purpose of embedding an RFID tag into a magazine, Violet asks: “What if a magazine of merely 700g could consist of paper, ink, electronic components and digital content all at the same time? What if the contents of a magazine could go on living forever in cyberspace? What if the difference between written and digital text finally becomes one in the same?”

Meanwhile, Amusement magazine’s publications director, Abdel Bounane, said that this issue is “a new genre all in itself, considering the relationship our paper had with dematerialized information.” He added that “with the launch of Amusement magazine, we had hoped to rework old press technology into the Internet era by offering a real object-magazine. One year later, by connecting our publication to the web, we have demonstrated that it is still possible to redefine the paper magazine for our generation.”

Issue 4 of Amusement, which features the RFID tag, is now on sale at various places throughout Europe and the US, including the Barbican in the UK.

Could RFID tags provide a new lease of life for printed media, or is this just a publicity stunt? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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