The genARate app: bringing printed material to life

Printed brochures, catalogues, etc. still influence customers’ purchasing decisions. A new app now adds virtual experiences to printed products.

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Image brochures, flyers, catalogues: printed information feels good to the touch and still has a major influence on the purchasing decisions of customers. With Konica Minolta genARate, there is now a new app that interacts with print products and gives them playful virtual components.

Imagine a beautiful brochure presenting a new car. It feels lovely to the touch. Has paper of the highest quality. Great photos. Bright colours. And texts that make you want to take a test drive. Then you hold your smartphone against the car door and, as if by magic, a totally new virtual world appears on your screen.

There, you witness the just-finished car roll off the production line. You can choose to take a virtual test drive through the Alps or cruise along Highway 1. And then, an engineer explains to you why the energy consumption of the hybrid model is so low.

Unfortunately, this example is not yet reality, but the technology to virtually expand print products and bring them to life does exist. And it offers impressive possibilities.

The relevance of this technology is clear: even major online mail-order companies still can’t get by without printed catalogues. Zalando, Europe’s leading online platform for fashion, alone prints over six million catalogues. In fact, 67% of the customers of major online mail-order companies and travel agencies still look for information in analogue catalogues or brochures before making the decisive click*.

* According to the German Federal Association for Print and Media (Bundesverband Druck und Medien)

Cross-media brand communication has a future: printed, digital, virtual

Image brochures, flyers or catalogues with offers: ‘Print products are still hugely important in brand communication,’ says Christian Kiesewetter. He is Head of Operations and Project Delivery at the Konica Minolta Business Innovation Centre Europe and responsible for all projects focused on commercialisation and brand launches.

Print products have a multisensory effect. That means: you can look at them, touch them, flick through them, they feel good to the touch – and still have a significant influence on the purchasing decisions of customers. Nevertheless, among optimised online presences and other digital offerings, printed marketing documents often have an old-school image within companies. That is partly because up to now there has not been a simple and commonly recognised interface between the analogue and digital worlds.

Christian Kiesewetter’s Konica Minolta team have now filled that gap with a new tool: ‘The genARate app provides a simple and creative link between print products and the online world,’ explains Christian Kiesewetter. ‘Augmented print combines augmented-reality applications with print products. The new app makes it possible to present additional content or further information in a modern and product-related way,’ says the Konica Minolta expert.

Who is talking:

Christian Kiesewetter, Team Manager Digital Workplace, Business Innovation Centre at Konica Minolta


Christian Kiesewetter is Head of Operations and Project Delivery at the Konica Minolta Business Innovation Centre (BIC) in Vienna. A Software Engineering graduate, he has been working on augmented reality applications such as augmented print for more than three years and is also responsible for all BIC projects relating to product development, commercialisation and market launches.

Augmented print through AR applications? Sounds complicated, but it’s very simple

Food, cars, computers, cities and regions: there is now a plethora of digital information about every product. Whether customers want to buy something or plan a trip: consumers research a lot of information both online and offline these days.

The idea behind the AR applications is for customers to be quickly and simply shown, on request, digital information when reading print products. To do so, they simply have to aim the scanner of their smartphone or tablet at a specified marker or labelled image, similarly to when reading a QR code.

The new genARate app recognises the pre-set marker and interacts with it in real time. It shows virtual elements with added value and also loads additional images, videos, audio files or 3D elements, etc. The good thing is that the digital data and content is mostly already available because it was produced for the website, presentations or social channels, for example. Only the link to the flyer or catalogue is missing.

Companies are capturing the virtual space with genARate augmented print

genARate brings relevant additional information into the field of vision of customers. Augmented print combines printed and digital information into a customer-friendly virtual full package. Unimaginable? Good old beer mats provide a clear example of such an application. The round coasters made of wood pulp cardboard have been traditional advertising and brand media for regional breweries for decades and are mostly printed with historical images. Now it is conceivable for some of those images to be digitally labelled, similarly to with a QR code.

If guests in a restaurant or pub then hold their app over the beer mat, they will be shown additional virtual information. A video from the hops harvest, a link to the brewery website with all product offers or a 3D animation about the history of beer brewing in Europe, for example.

‘Everything that works in the digital world also works in the genARate app, and this new link offers great possibilities, especially with regard to small packaging and labels,’ explains Christian Kiesewetter. Due to the size of packaging, he says, there is often not much space for important and valuable additional information. The app offers companies totally new opportunities to pass on facts and figures, as well as additional exciting content or entertaining messages, to customers.

Smart entrepreneurs become digital pioneers with print products

Print is on the move: with this new tool, owners and managers of SMEs can become digital pioneers without major investments or risks. Existing print products from company marketing can be expanded into an exciting, interactive dialogue with customers in the digital genARate studio using the app.

genARate is a simple, flexible, cloud-based tool with which printed company documents can be transformed into a virtual product world. The designers and programmers at Konica Minolta have designed genARate in such a way that augmented reality becomes usable for everyone.

Users simply open their web browser and log in. The intuitive drag-and-drop tool then shows them the way to prepare print products for interactive customer communication. Furthermore, genARate tracks customer and user behaviour and thus allows companies to quickly get started with marketing documents and campaigns, and to develop them in a targeted way.

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