A daily Japanese newspaper, the Tokyo Shimbun, has recently launched an app that allows children to scan specially-marked articles with their smartphone, which then reveals various kid-friendly content related to the article. An anime character, for instance, might pop up on a child’s smartphone screen and explain the article in kid-friendly terms. Various graphics and pop-up headlines may also be revealed.

The app, AR News, was developed by a Japanese firm known as Dentsu, which was contracted to create a solution that would make newspapers, and newspaper reading, more enjoyable to children. To use the app, a child simply has to find an article that’s been surrounded by a light-blue box—that’s the indication that a story has multimedia content hidden just beneath its surface.

This seems to me like an especially brilliant way to make print newspapers more exciting and interactive—for young readers especially—while bringing them firmly into the 21st century at the same time.

There’s no word yet, by the way, on whether or not Dentsu may eventually develop a similar app for grown-up newspaper fans.


  1. I take it that AR means Augmented Reality but this application of the AR concept is nothing short of brilliant. If the app understands enough about you, it could re-frame all sorts of things to your preferred world view protecting you from any kind of cognitive dissonance. I guess that a good idea can be taken too far.

  2. Felix, have you tried Marvel’s AP app by any chance? If so, can you share your thoughts? It seems to me like this sort of thing, depending on how it’s executed, could either be mind-blowingly awesome or really disappointing.

    I guess the stakes would be inherently lower if young kids were the app’s main demographic. With comics, though — even mainstream superhero comics — adults are just as much the intended demographic as kids these days. Maybe even more so.

  3. I haven’t tried the app yet but I hope to find time soon. There is potential, but I suspect it probably runs along the lines of DVD extras… The tech is there but finding a proper use…

    And yes, most comics these days are for adults. There are very few mainstream titles I would offer up to a pre-teen. (Some for content, some for quality…or lack of same.)
    Basically, the ones that are good are very good and the ones that aren’t are the equivalent of a Michael Bay movie. 😉

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