The New York Times today debuted its first augmented reality (AR) experience, introducing a new immersive storytelling format that invites readers to engage with Times journalism like never before. Through a smartphone’s camera, AR storytelling makes big things possible on a small screen; it also gives readers a chance to explore information in new ways, with less swiping and clicking and more movement and gestures.
The first AR-enabled article is a preview piece for the Winter Olympics. Readers will be able to meet world-class Olympic athletes–including figure skater Nathan Chen, big air snowboarder Anna Gasser and short track speed skater J.R. Celski–as if readers paused them mid-performance, walked out to the ice or to the slope and explored their form, their speed and their height, and learn what makes them the top athletes in their sport.
“The Times has been among the most innovative digital storytellers for many years. On desktop, mobile, in our exploration of data visualization and other forms of visual journalism, including virtual reality, we’ve been committed to creating the most compelling and vibrant report possible, and this experiment in AR is a part of that,” said Steve Duenes, assistant masthead editor, The New York Times. “The Times covers today’s most compelling news events from around the world. And now, our readers can get closer to these stories and subjects, from a possible border wall to a figure skater’s quadruple jump. They can take in the size, shape and details of the objects at the center of our coverage. There’s no question that these are early days for AR, but our work so far suggests that this emerging technology has real potential to help our readers experience the news differently, helping them understand the world more deeply.”
Ralph Lauren, an Official Outfitter of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, gives readers the chance to experience Team USA ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani in AR, as they model the official Ralph Lauren Team USA Opening Ceremony Parade uniforms. T Brand Studio collaborated with Ralph Lauren on the creative design and concept to enhance user-experience.
“In continuing to explore and support innovation across all aspects of our business, we partnered with The New York Times to launch the cutting-edge Olympics AR experience. Ralph Lauren is an official Outfitter of Team USA and we’re excited to build innovative ideas that bring the Olympics to life for the consumer in new and exciting ways,” said David Lauren, chief innovation officer.
The Ralph Lauren AR interactive, which was produced by New York Times Company experiential design agency Fake Love, is the first AR experience from an advertiser to live inside The New York Times app for iOS and is accessible directly from The Times news feed.
The New York Times developed the AR experience leveraging Apple’s ARKit, available to hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads users with devices running iOS 11. Readers are encouraged to download the latest version of The Times’s core iPhone and iPad apps from the App Store for the most immersive experience, though a highly considered version of the article will also be available on the reading platform of their choice.
This AR experience is coming to Android soon, built with ARCore.
For more information and a guide to AR at The Times, please click here.