iPR – the future of print media or more ‘techno’ noise?

January 7, 2013

in Technology

“Print is not dead, it is struggling to make itself heard”…so says Peter Lancaster, COO and co-founder of documobi; the company leading the development of iPR.

iPR or intelligent print recognition is an emerging technology that allows smart-phone and tablet users to scan any printed image for instant links and downloads.

The technology has been developed by the US company documobi and is currently available for iPhone users with an Android App following soon.  It allows users to take a photo of any printed item and to make it interactive at the touch of a button; whenever and wherever the user is at the time.  Take a picture of the printed image on your phone and then have instant access to dynamic mobile-optimised web content; Sabine Lenz of Paper Specs describes the technology as “like QR codes on speed”.

The licenced print providers have full control and access to the cloud-based portal with easy pdf or jpeg uploading and indexing.  Each campaign can be managed and adapted in real-time for call-to-action, offers and content; this coupled with the extensive analytics available to the campaign client means that probably for the first time in over 500 years printed media can be truly measurable and accountable.

Quick Response (QR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are still a long way from being fully utilised by marketers as have the benefits of properly targetted variable data so is this just another example of print media technology jumping too far ahead of itself?  Will iPR eradicate the need for QR codes or will it be sidelined for the next ten years while the communications sector gets to grip with existing interactive processes?

QR codes have no or very little cost associated for the publisher whereas the iPR licence is currently around $2000 with a monthly maintenance charge as well as a traffic cost for every time a user scans an iPR image.  Not huge costs compared to the relative benefits and where the real advantages, against existing technologies, are is with the geographical control and analytics package that comes with iPR use.

Using a printed car advertisment as an example – if you wanted to direct a user via QR code to their nearest dealership then you would need to print a different QR code in each advertisement area or direct them via a central site which they would then have to enter their locality for details of the nearest dealership.  If you used a scanned image of the car for iPR then the prospective customer would be directed straight to the nearest dealer with directions from wherever they were at the time, be that nationwide or even globally – Peterborough, Idaho or Moscow.  With the control and analytics of iPR the client or campaign manager could change the interactive content subject to the campaign success, so if the dealership in Peterborough was getting too many test drive requests  for a certain model or type then you could include special offers on less popular car models.

If you think, there could be numerous examples for the use and benefits of iPR…

You’re walking around your supermarket and pick up a pack of duck breasts, you like duck but aren’t too sure of how to cook them or what goes with them.  With iPR you could scan the picture on the pack and it could give you a whole list of recipes and ingredients so you wouldn’t have to get home to realise that you didn’t pick up the saville oranges for the sauce.  The ingredients would be relevant to the shop you where in, therefore adding sales for the retailer as well as the supplier of the duck breasts.


When you get back from a trip to a large Swedish home store and you’re trying to assemble that set of drawers, if you get stuck on a certain area of the assembly instructions then you could iPR the relevant page on your smart-phone and be taken straight to a short instructional video for that part of the instruction; one iPR image for anyone in any part of the world, for any language.  If one particular instruction was getting far more hits then any other then the furniture store would identify that there may be an issue with their assembly guide and could amend for future reprints.

So, is intelligent print recognition the future of print media?   That’s as much down to marketing, sales promotion and advertising professionals as it is down to the consumer.  The biggest issue we can see, at least in the short-term, is informing and educating consumers on what images are suitable for iPR scanning.  One thing is for sure, printed media is not dead and ain’t going down without a fight!

Please contact us if you’re interested in finding out more or if you have access to an iPhone and are interested in trying iPR examples for yourself.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: