The award recognises our work with The Big Issue magazine in becoming the first street newspaper to implement Augmented Reality (AR) using the genARate app, to provide a new way to access content, raise awareness of poverty, homelessness, and social exclusion in the UK, and support vendor sales.
Konica Minolta was announced as the winner at a virtual awards event held on 2nd December, which recognised commercial companies who are helping create a better, more equal, ethical, and sustainable world for all. Rob Ferris, Chief Executive Officer at Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd states, “We are proud to have been recognised by the Better Society Awards 2020, for our work supporting The Big Issue. Konica Minolta is an organisation that is not only committed to supporting its employees, customers, partners, and wider society but also ensuring that technology is used to make a difference.”
The project initially came about following an inspiring conversation between a The Big Issue magazine vendor and a member of the Konica Minolta team. It prompted the team to think about how it could help the organisation and its vendors combat some of the challenges it was facing as a traditional print publisher.
With more publications being distributed freely on the streets, consumers preferring to consume content via digital channels, and potential customers glued to mobile phones walking past vendors, The Big Issue and its vendors were feeling the pressure.
Oliver Waddington-Ball, Head of Custom Content and Partnerships at The Big Issue commented, “Selling the magazine has given our vendors structure, a sense of purpose and dignity. It was really important for us to find a way to engage and empower a wider audience through digital channels, whilst not compromising on our physical vendor model,”
With the assistance of Konica Minolta, The Big Issue was the first street newspaper to implement augmented reality. Utilising the genARate AR app, publishers can overlay video, animations, or 3D models onto printed materials to create rich media communications that provide an exciting draw for the audience.
Rob adds, “People don’t tend to associate AR with a social enterprise like The Big Issue. We used AR in several editions to shift this perception and demonstrate how technology really can make a difference, in all parts of our society. Konica Minolta also provided the magazine with support and strategic advice on how to embrace digital transformation for the future. Undoubtedly the ability to converge its print and digital business, and give greater opportunity for readers to share content, has also delivered additional commercial benefits to the organisation by extending the reach, impact and influence of The Big Issue”.