Times Of India Launches Another Augmented Reality App: Times Alive


The Times of India Group, has launched an Augmented Reality application, christened Times Alive, it’s second augmented reality app launch this year.

Alive allows readers of the newspaper to interact with a print medium, and get access to rich media content, such as videos, photos, and polls. The company claims that the app has been downloaded 250,000 times leading to 300,000 leads on a single day.

The app is available on smartphone platforms such as Symbian, BlackBerry, Android and Apple’s iOS. When one scans an image/content with alive logo, the app looks for feature points within the image and match those against a backend database and pulls up the multimedia content on their screen.

Switched From TELIBrahma

Alive has been launched by Times Internet in partnership with Adstuck Consulting, which has deployed its image recognition technology, but MediaNama readers might recall that, in June, Times Internet had also launched Times Intaract, an Augmented Reality app, in partnership with TELIBrahma. We noticed that the Times Intaract application has been pulled from the Android Store.

In response to our query, Times Internet CEO Satyan Gajwani said that the earlier implementation of augmented reality was a pilot for advertisers only and not editorial teams, and “it was a smaller implementation with a simpler product. Since then we have invested into building a full editorial oriented platform with better functionality. ”

Using The App

Once an user downloads the app on their smartphone, s/he can hold it up in camera mode to the image with the alive logo from any print media. Once the app recognizes the content that needs to pull in, it loads the multimedia content on the screen. Users can share the multimedia content to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook or email it their friends and family. The content scanned can be saved for future views.

We tried the app by scanning the alive logo from today’s TOI newspaper on our iPhone 4 and found that the app worked as expected. Apparently the app links to multimedia content from YouTube user TimesAlive.

 

Views Via Apps Don’t Count?

The app tries to promote online medium to its existing large base of print media readers, but at the same time, providing interactivity to offline users. However, when we analysed TimesAlive’s YouTube page, we noticed that the videos uploaded by them have hardly received any user views. The Ranbir-Anushka video uploaded  about 21 hours ago has managed to get only 12 views. And this does not include the YouTube’s flawed views count logic as it does not occur before the view count hits 301. Gajwani claims that the YouTube view count increases only when someone shares it and it is viewed on the web, and when someone views a video from within the app, the views aren’t counted.

Tricky Start (Nikhil adds)

The launch of Alive, featuring video clips of nurse Jacintha Saldanha’s funeral, was the subject of much outrage on Twitter and Facebook yesterday, with users criticizing Times for using a tragedy to promote an app (image via Bijoy Venugopal on Facebook)


. Perhaps a little sensitivity might help.

That said, this is an interesting product to be launched, especially since it doesn’t necessarily draw users away from Print (which, say, a “web special” might do), and only enhances the users experience in print, especially since the focus is on enhancing content consumption, and not advertising. With increasing smart phone penetration in India and growing mobile Internet base, usage can only grow.


  • http://www.beingpractical.com/ Pravin J

    1. There is a considerable lag time in YouTube views count to show the right number. Not just that, it varies on YouTube itself, for example search – PSY Gangnam Style; the count on video page, search results page and video commended will be different. I’ve noticed that the count on search results page is most accurate of all 3.

    2. Satyan is right about video counts from Apps. YouTube does that. Google wants user-initiated click for view counts (apps can play with this, so it does not count that) : http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=175736

    3. The big point here is – can offline media (newspapers) promote a online product. Answer is no.
    TOI, even with its reach could not scale up this product – because the consumption media is different.

    • http://twitter.com/satyangajwani Satyan Gajwani

      Pravin, in reply to your points:
      1) The view counts on YouTube won’t reflect at all because the YouTube channel is an additional feed. The content consumption in app isn’t being streamed from YouTube.2) We don’t think about this as offline media promoting an online product. For us, it’s about making the paper more interesting and giving readers more engaging content. Over the next week you’ll see more unique interactivity we bring to the service.Thanks for sharing your views.

    • http://twitter.com/satyangajwani Satyan Gajwani

      Pravin, in reply to your points:1) The view counts on YouTube won’t reflect at all because the YouTube channel is an additional feed. The content consumption in app isn’t being streamed from YouTube.2) We don’t think about this as offline media promoting an online product. For us, it’s about making the paper more interesting and giving readers more engaging content. Over the next week you’ll see more unique interactivity we bring to the service.Thanks for sharing your views.

  • Subir Ghosh

    The best thing about this app is that it is making people do. Reading and Seeing are natural urges which are now simplified by just a click on your cell phone.

    Its raising a lot of rage because its some magical element to it. Not very often there is an app which can be enjoyed on all mobile platforms, is amazingly simple and at last finds the most recent and uncut content through Newspaper.

    The app is heralding exciting times, its making phones interact with static things. People are loving Alive and thats because its simple to use.

    Times of India does this so often. Kudos

  • Varun Palekar

    The app doesn’t use youtube for streaming, if there is such thing then youtube link’s count increases.

  • Kundan Kumar

    One of the best implementations of AR in current world. Great Article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nickhiljakatdar Nickhil Jakatdar

    Congrats Satyan….This is truly innovative

    • http://twitter.com/satyangajwani Satyan Gajwani

      Thanks buddy :)

  • Anonymous

    What we are seeing is the best Augmented Reality app in the world. Alive is definitely better and more stable than blippar and Layar.

  • Rishi

    The best part of Alive is the speed. I have seen many augmented reality app but the speed and accuracy is USP of this AR App.

    Cheers Alive and TOI !