While a new museum to house the original torch of the Statue of Liberty is under construction on Liberty Island and scheduled to open in May 2019, New York Times readers can now view the sculpture in their own space through augmented reality.
Available in the NY Times mobile app for iOS and Android, the latest augmented feature enables readers to anchor the virtual torch in their physical environment after the customary scanning for a horizontal surface via ARKit or ARCore. Once placed in space, users can scale the torch up to life size and even walk along the torch's balcony.
The Times immersive team created the 3D torch from 675 photographs taken of the 3,600-pound copper and glass structure after visiting hours, just prior to its move from the statue's pedestal to the new museum site on Nov. 15.
The move was fairly well covered by news media, with CBS New York taking the extra step of capturing video of the move itself. But the coverage from the Times stood apart from the routine coverage from other outlets by employing its augmented reality approach.
After launching its AR reporting initiative in February, the Times has gradually staked a leadership position in AR journalism. Publishing AR features at about a monthly pace, the paper's immersive 3D features differentiate its news coverage from other outlets and gives it a unique offering to draw readers to its content.
While the Times is not alone in AR reporting, with The Washington Post and USA Today also publishing AR content, the media outlet is certainly ahead of its competition in terms of volume of output and, arguably, quality of content.