Way back in September 1991, John Bird and Gordon Roddick launched The Big Issue. Since 1993, the magazine has been published on a weekly basis and the issue hitting streets today – 7 January 2019 – marks a first, with the entire magazine being brought to life via augmented reality technology.
Readers need to download the GenARate app, which is available on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play, before buying a copy of the magazine from their local vendor. Readers will then be able to access exclusive AR-assisted material including a bedtime story written by How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell, and a musical performance by Matt Haig and Andy Burrows. Firm It’s Nice That favourite David Keenan, who worked with Sophy Hollington on a Rough Trade released book in 2018, also reads from his forthcoming novel, For the Good Times.
Ben Sullivan, group digital editor at The Big Issue says: “Our very reason for existence – to support our vendors – has never been clearer,” citing the Conservative government’s Universal Credit scheme as something which is “knocking countless families across Britain into poverty,” while “the number of homeless people on our streets has been rising every year for almost a decade.”
Ben goes on to say how the AR issue came about, explaining how “week in week out, we are fighting for our vendors to succeed in any way possible.” To that end, the publication has been experimenting with providing their vendors with contactless payment systems amongst other initiatives. “Tech can get a bad reputation, sure, but we also understand the good it can do for society,” says Ben.
The AR edition of The Big Issue is the result of a collaboration between the publication and Japanese tech company Konica Minolta and is available to buy from vendors across the UK from today.