x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Comic book hero races online

Majid, the popular Arabic children's comic book character, is the star of the Middle East's first print-driven augmented reality game.

Majid, the popular Arabic children's comic book character, took a step towards his new digital persona as a video-game hero with the launch of the Middle East's first print-driven augmented reality (AR) game. The game, which will be incorporated into the February 24 and March 3 editions of Majid magazine, will feature a page that when held up to a webcam will overlay users' real-world surroundings with computer-generated imagery creating an interactive "mixed reality" environment.

"We're bringing a novel AR application which builds on Majid's strength and brand legacy, while tapping into the pulse of the technology in the Middle East," said Ricky Ghai, the executive director of digital media at the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), the owner and publisher of The National. "The combination of audience content collaboration and exciting technology represents an example of what cross-platform interaction is all about."

Majid, which is owned by ADMC, is one of several brands at the company crossing over from print into the digital realm. Last year, ADMC announced a joint venture with Gazillion, a San Fransico-based game developer, to create the region's first multiplayer online gaming studio in Abu Dhabi, with Majid as the star of its first game. In this latest venture, AR technology, which has been growing in popularity in the Middle East in recent months, will allow fans to enter a Majid-themed world on their computer screens and play a racing game with Majid.

The special page in the AR-enabled issue of Majid will contain a printed marker, which, when held up to a webcam, triggers the digital recognition software downloaded from the magazine's website. This in turn launches an interactive environment allowing users to experience a mixed reality environment. ABI Research, based in New York, estimates that the industry for AR applications will be worth US$250 million (Dh918.3m) by 2014, up from $6m in 2008.

"Augmented reality is a very exciting and promising technology," said Noah Khan, the director of technology at ADMC. "In addition to new game concepts and commercial and marketing applications, AR is a great breakthrough for the media and entertainment industry, which has a reputation for creativity and pushing boundaries through the use of new and innovative technologies such as this." khagey@thenational.ae