Old school media stalwart Sports Illustrated is billing this year's Swimsuit Issue as the "Most Immersive Experience Ever," and it certainly lives up to that statement, as the magazine has added augmented reality and virtual reality experiences to this year's version via Snapchat and the Life VR app.
Accessible through a Snapcode, users can use Snapchat to place themselves on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue. And, using a Snapchat World Lens, they can also pose on a virtual photoshoot set.
"The premise of the issue this year is to celebrate strong women," said MJ Day, Swimsuit editor, in a 360-degree behind-the-scenes video highlighting the issue. "We have every woman from every walk of life in this issue. We've model searched [and included] a range of body diversity, racial diversity, and life diversity."
The Snapchat experiences were developed in partnership with augmented reality agency Trigger. The agency built the content using Snapchat's Lens Studio tool.
Content includes a 3D hologram of cover model Danielle Herrington, portals to the sets used in the photoshoots, and behind-the-scenes video embedded into pages of the magazine. The VR experiences will also be available in Life VR's Samsung VR channel and in the Life VR Windows Mixed Reality app.
One of the experiences, a video feature featuring Herrington, appears by scanning the cover. Two behind-the-scenes portals and the hologram of Herrington are markerless experiences facilitated by ARKit.
"Travel with Swimsuit Editor MJ Day for a special behind-the-scenes look at how the issue was created," wrote photographer James Macari in a blog post. "From a breezy beach in the Caribbean with Ashley Graham to a heart-thumping sandstorm in the desert with Paige Spiranac, Swimsuit fans will get to experience the stunning locations and go inside the shoots like never before."
Sports Illustrated has promoted the issue through Snapchat since 2016, but this is the first year it has offered AR content for the annual through the Life VR app after it ditched an announced attempt last year.
Between multiple AR installations from Time Inc. and recent Winter Olympics coverage from The New York Times and The Washington Post, the publishing industry has fully-embraced AR as a means to add value to their aging, paper-based medium, which, according to the Times' CEO, may only have 10 years left on the newsstands of the world.