Esquire Flirts With Digital Reality

Hollywood stars are going virtual, in the latest effort to jazz up the printed word–and wake up consumers who have become inured to traditional ads.

Hearst Corp.’s Esquire magazine will pepper its December issue with markers that trigger interactive video segments featuring cover subject Robert Downey Jr. and other actors, as well as an ad for Lexus. In doing so, Esquire is taking advantage of an emerging technology called augmented reality, which mixes real-life images with graphics or other effects. TV networks use AR to make the yellow first-down lines on football fields.

The cover and several pages of the Esquire issue include square stickers with black-and-white designs. People can hold the magazine up to a Web camera to trigger the video segments, which are similar to some video-conferencing technologies in their lifelike quality.

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