News: USA Today Builds Latest Augmented Reality Story Around the World's Tallest Skyscrapers

USA Today Builds Latest Augmented Reality Story Around the World's Tallest Skyscrapers

While The New York Times' augmented reality section has largely been dormant in 2019 (so far), USA Today has continued to crank out AR news stories.

On Monday, the news outlet published a feature story about the world's tallest buildings (and the recent lack of new skyscrapers in the US) on its mobile app for iOS and Android.

Image by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

To access the experience, you first need to open the app and go to the front news page of the app, and then scroll down to the "Interactive Story" section (in bold blue letters). Once open, the experience gives readers a close-up look at the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center in New York City, Willis Tower in Chicago, Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. As with previous AR experiences from USA Today, the 3D content includes hot spots with audio snippets to tell the full story of the buildings included in the AR story.

Users looking for a different interactive experience related to the story of the tall buildings can view 3D versions of the buildings in a separate (but related) story on the app by searching in the app for "the tallest buildings". There, the 3D content is hosted via Sketchfab, enabling readers to view the content as non-immersive 3D models or in mobile VR via the Sketchfab app for iOS and Android.

Last year, The New York Times made a big splash with augmented reality news coverage, averaging more than a story per month throughout the year. At the same time, USA Today took a more cautious approach, with just a handful of AR stories.

Image by USA Today/Sketchfab

The roles have reversed this year, as USA Today has published NHL and Oscars AR experiences prior to their latest story, while The New York Times has been quiet on the AR front in recent months.

That doesn't mean that the Times has abandoned the technology, though. In an email to Next Reality, Graham Roberts, the person behind much of the Times' AR initiatives, says the media company is still working on some "exciting" AR projects.

"2018 was a year of trying a lot of different things on a new platform," said Roberts. "We are taking what we learned, doing some retooling, and choosing our targets carefully for camera-based executions."

Cover image via Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

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