A marriage of old and new technology
iSnap allows users to access greater content via smartphonesIf you see people pointing their smartphones on The Nation newspaper today, don't find it strange. They are most likely using the newest feature in town called iSnap in Nation News application, set to be launched today.
The iSnap allows users to scan photos and advertisements and get extra content on their device ranging from video clips, photo galleries, and 3-D images from product catalogues and contest forms.
"This is more than just a gimmick. We intend it to be an additional value, primarily for the readers and our advertisers," said Thepchai Yong, Group Editor-in-Chief of the Nation Multimedia Group.
Aside from The Nation, iSnap is also available for the company's two other national dailies, Kom Chad Luek and Krungthep Turakij.
"iSnap connects the old media with new media. It enables our readers to feel what we call the life in news stories and pictures that are otherwise very still. With this technology, it allows readers to get to understand and feel the stories," Thepchai added.
The Nation is among the media companies in the region to tap into this technology, which was developed by Singaporean firm Knorex. Other newspapers that have inked deals with Knorex are The Star of Malaysia, China Daily's Hong Kong edition and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Like The Nation, these newspapers are members of the Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 newspapers in the region. Another ANN member, The Jakarta Post, is in talks with Knorex.
"The feature nicely complements The Nation's convergent news operations and gives us and advertisers a business model on mobile," said Pana Janviroj, president of The Nation newspaper. "We already have a convergent newsroom so this is an outlet for complete distribution."
Nation Multimedia Group started implementing its converged newsroom setting last year, bringing together the print and broadcast platforms for a seamless, more organised news coverage.
Thepchai said The Nation's journalists have been undergoing multimedia training that helps them adjust to technological advancements and prepare for the changes that come with them.
"They have to do more planning. They know from now on there will be additional requirements on the job. We are no longer content with having just still pictures or stories that cannot be connected to social media," Thepchai said.
He noted that this multimedia approach to delivering news "will make journalists become more multi-skilled in carrying out their profession".
"They will think more thoroughly in doing their stories, more dimensional in their thinking and planning," he said.
Pana said the feature also "serves the readers' immediate instinct for additional content like videos and photos on a news item they have read".
"Likewise, advertisers can fulfill customers' needs for added information on their products with multimedia presentation and right at their fingertips through mobile," Pana said.
In an interview published in The Straits Times last week, Knorex CEO Justin Choo described iSnap as a new way of interacting with print content.
"How cool is it to be able to view a movie trailer on your smartphone just when you are reading a review of the same movie on print?" Choo said. He said the company which he co-founded two years ago is already profitable through revenue-sharing deals with news publishers.
Knorex was spun off from Singapore's Institute of Infocomm Research in January 2010. Knorex's ARise technology is based on augmented reality, where virtual content is "embedded" in real-world spaces through smartphone or advanced spectacles and TV screens.
One of the key components in Knorex's ARise augmented reality app is Snap2Tell, an award-winning image recognition software which is able to make sense of the images in print or on physical objects. - With a report from The Straits Times