“Wizard” Idea from Express and Star

The Wolverhampton-based Express and Star – the nation’s biggest-selling regional daily - is experimenting with augmented reality technology that enables smartphone users to turn newspaper photos into moving images on its pages. 

When viewed through a special app on a smartphone readers see interactive animations.

Deputy editor Diane Davies (pictured) said: “We were initially introduced to the idea of augmented reality at the end of last year by Creative Black Country who we work closely with regarding coverage of the arts in the region. They asked us to publicise the 100 Masters campaign (which promotes artists and creative people from the Black Country) which we were happy to do, and then demonstrated augmented reality to myself and digital editor Mike Woods asking whether we would be interested in trialing it in the Express & Star as part of the 100 Masters project.

“We jumped at the idea. The thought of additional content jumping out of our pages was very exciting,” said Diane. 

The innovation has been compared to fictional newspaper ‘The Daily Prophet’, found in the Harry Potter series of books and films, which is read by wizards and features moving images instead of still pictures.

E&S reporter Doug Wootton is coordinating the paper’s 100 Masters editorial coverage and has worked closely with the developers on the project.

Liam Smyth, 100 Masters creative producer, said: “This is an exciting first, as we have worked in collaboration with the Express & Star, the country’s biggest regional newspaper, to bring artwork into thousands of households across the West Midlands. This is what the future of media looks like and, as ever, the Black Country are leading the way in revolutionising the way we make, see and do things.”